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Westmoreland edition 



"I feel that the whole state of things is somehow wrong and 
topsy-turvy and wicked" 






Clje Ktoerstoe 





13 H 







WICKED ' (Page 177) Frontispiece 

From an original drawing by Mr. Charles E. Brock. 


Hampden House, Buckinghamshire. Mellor Park was 
largely suggested by Hampden House as it was in 1889, 
before the present owner had repaired and restored it, 
and when it was let to Mr. Humphry Ward as a sum- 
mer tenant. This garden front was built on to the orig- 
inal house of which the first structures go back to 
the reign of King John about the middle of the 
eighteenth century. The windows of it look down the 
long avenue as described in the first pages of ' Marcella.' 
The eighteenth-century gate-houses have now been re- 
stored and a gate put up, but there is a right of way 
through the avenue. 


This institution, built in 1898, is in Tavistock Place. 'As 
to the ideas I tried to embody in " Marcella," . . . the 
book owed a good deal to the founding of a Settlement 
in which I was concerned, not long after the appear- 
ance of " Robert Elsmere." ' (See Introduction, page 


In the rear of the building is a large plot of ground 
owned by the Duke of Bedford, who allows the free use 
of it to the Settlement. The grass is sown every year 
and the trees and shrubs are kept in perfect condition 
at the expense of the Duke of Bedford. In the summer 
hundreds of poor children from this central district of 
London are allowed to play on the grass daily : and 
a vacation school attended by about eleven hundred 
[ vii ] 


children occupies the garden and the Settlement during 
the month of August. 


From an original drawing by Mr. Brock. 


A field near Stocks, Aldbury, in which the Pendley 
game-keepers were found murdered in December, 1891. 
The incidents in ' Marcella ' were roughly suggested by 
the real event. 


From an original drawing by Mr. Brock. 

All the illustrations in this volume are photogravures, and 
except where otherwise stated, are from photographs taken 
especially for this edition. 


IN the summer of 1892 we settled in the Hertfordshire 
house, which has been, since then, for seventeen years 
our principal home. All my books since ' David Grieve '. 
have been written there, except for occasional flights 
abroad, when a more complete isolation than even 
Stocks can give seemed the only medicine for a halting 
story. We left Haslemere in the spring of that year 
mainly because the growth of the population all round 
us, and the rise of new houses wherever land could be 
had for building, seemed to foreshadow a country exist- 
ence almost as full of social happenings and obliga- 
tions as London itself. It became clear, also, that 
amid the villadom of Surrey, enchantingly beautiful 
as the Surrey commons and woods still are, it was 
hardly possible to come very close to the traditional 
life of field and farm, and I had begun to feel a great 
wish to come close to it. Till then a townswoman, liv- 
ing in Oxford or London, and camping for the summer 
amid the wildness of the commons between Milford 
and Peper Harow, I had little practical knowledge of 
the familiar routine, the immemorial forces and tradi- 
tions which govern rural England. Yet at Hampden 
in '89, among the remote woods and lanes of the 
Chilterns, I had felt strongly the drawing of that life 
of the earth and its labours 

" whose dumb wish is not missed 
If birth proceeds, if things subsist " ; 

t fc ] 


and as the bricks and mortar of Haslemere increased, 
and the beautiful hill we had settled on was soon all 
built over by others, as much in love as we with its 
blue and purple prospect, the restlessness in me began 
to be shared by the rest of us. In January, 1892, just 
about the time of the publicatipn of ' David Grieve/ 
an eighteenth-century house in Hertfordshire, close to 
some old and dear friends, and standing on a wooded 
upland near a village where little or nothing had 
changed for a hundred years, fell vacant, by the 
death of a lady well known and widely loved in the 
country-side, who had lived there for sixty years. 
We came to look at it in January snows, and were 
captured by its quiet, its encircling down, its beauti- 
ful trees, and its holly hedges! Here at last was "a 
harbour and a hold/' where reigned tranquillity. Such 
at least would have been the impression of any 
stranger seeing the place for the first time on that 
winter day. Yet in truth the fields near Stocks had 
just been the scene of a tragedy which was in all men's 
mouths. In December, 1891, two keepers in the em- 
ploy of a neighbouring landowner were murdered by 
poachers, on the skirts of the big wood which from all 
time has crowned the hill above the house. When we 
made our first visit, two men were in prison awaiting 
trial, and they were condemned and executed before 
we entered upon our tenancy in the following April. 
A strong effort was made after the verdict to get a 
reprieve, but the Home Secretary stood firm, and the 
law took its course. 

Naturally such an event had struck deep into the 
feeling of the village and the neighbourhood. In the 


country-houses near, no less than in the cottages, the 
trial and the agitation for reprieve were eagerly dis- 
cussed ; the game-laws and game-preserving in general 
came up for chastisement in the Radical newspapers, 
where the murderers were excused as poor men poach- 
ing for food, while the Tories, dismissing the hunger 
excuse with scorn, and declaring that the game was 
being stolen to sell, like any other tempting commod- 
ity, regarded the murder as merely a sordid and brutal 
example of a sordid and brutal form of crime. When, 
in the April sunshine, we came to settle at Stocks, and 
began to roam the beautiful fields around the house, 
these questionings and debates filled my mind, to- 
gether with a constant attempt to reconstruct the 
psychological origins and the local circumstance of 
the murder. The event in all its bearings economic, 
social, political affected me, as a stranger and ob- 
server, more sharply probably than it would have 
done had I been always country-born and bred. It 
seemed to focus in itself forces and passions and tend- 
encies at work everywhere in our rural life. The poor 
battered bodies found on that December morning on 
the slope under the hill, the hurry of magistrates and 
police through the quiet lanes, the talk in the cottages, 
the discussion in the country-houses, it had all of 
it, in my eyes, a typical, representative interest. Such 
a thing could not have happened in France, or Italy, 
or America, nowhere, but in England. It suggested 
itself to me at once as providing a natural centre and 
core for that leisurely novel of English country life 
that I had already in mind. 

Yet, let it be understood, that when the murder 


came to be worked out in the novel, scarcely a circum- 
stance of the original event remained. Westall and 
Kurd had no prototypes in real life. The actual men 
concerned in the Aldbury murder, and the incidents 
of the attack on the Pendley gamekeepers were dif- 
ferent from anything described in ' Marcella.' And I 
cannot insist too strongly that the book would have 
had no power and no illusion whatever, as romance, 
had it been otherwise. For as with the painter, so 
with the writer. Until the stuff of what we call real 
life has been re-created and transformed by the inde- 
pendent, possessive, impetuous forces of imagination, 
it has no value for the artist, and in so far as it remains 
'real/ i. e., a mere literal copy of something seen or 
heard, it represents a dead and lifeless element in an 
artist's work. A commonplace, of course, but one 
that has to be constantly repeated, especially in con- 
nexion with this business of searching one's memory 
for the hints and suggestions, the crude fact or im- 
pression, that set going the story-telling process. 

Never, I think, was I conscious of more delight in 
that process than in the writing of ' Marcella/ During 
the summer of 1892, our first summer at Stocks, an 
attack of illness kept me on the sofa for many weeks. 
I was forbidden to move, or to write ; and all that was 
left was to read and rest. And rest was welcome, for 
there had been many agitations connected with ' David 
Grieve/ and its reception in England and America. 
August and September passed in this way. Then, with 
the end of September, health came back, and a hunger 
to write. The outline of ' Marcella ' was written first 
on a half-sheet of paper, and the work began. And 

[ xii ] 


probably owing to the long physical rest, it went with 
great ease and pleasure. Yet except in the writing of 
'Bessie Costrell/ I cannot remember being so tyran- 
nously held by the scenes and emotions of any book as 
by those of ' Marcella.' ' Helbeck ' was written as it were 
with my whole life and strength. I could, however, get 
away from it and forget it, but, for weeks, in writing 
' Marcella/ Hurd's cottage and the winter moonlight 
on the skirts of the wood were far more real to me 
than the rooms of Stocks, or the autumn flowers of its 
old garden, amid which the actual hours were passed. 
Every writer of tales, in whom there is any share of 
the special faculty which belongs to the metier, will 
know what is meant. The psychology of it has hardly 
been explored A story, and a good story, can be 
written without any such experience. Some of the 
work which, as I look back critically upon it, seems to 
me of my best which the public has welcomed most 
warmly has been written as it were intellectually, 
following out a logical sequence whether in character 
or event, under a conviction of necessity and truth, 
but without any overpowering vision. Imagination 
indeed placed and dressed the different scenes, con- 
ceiving them in a clear succession. But, all through, 
one knew how it was done, and felt that with proper 
concentration of mind it could be done again. But 
there are times and crises in imaginative work when 
this process seems to be quite superseded by another; 
and afterwards in looking back upon the results a 
writer will not know how it was done, and will not feel 
that it could be repeated. Something intervened, 
a tranced, absorbed state, in which the action of cer- 
[ xiii ] 


tain normal faculties seemed suspended in order that 
others might work with exceptional ease, like tools 
that elves had sharpened in the night. I was conscious 
of this state all through the writing of the scenes 
before Kurd's execution, and at one or two other 
points in the book. But I never felt it so strangely, or 
in a manner apparently so independent of my own 
will, or of surrounding conditions, as during the writ- 
ing of ' Bessie Costrell/ 

Many other figures and incidents, beyond the main 
incident of the murder, were contributed by the new 
surroundings on which we entered in April, 1892. The 
village half a mile from the house contained at that 
time a number of very old people, whose talk to 
which I constantly listened made a bridge between 
the present and the past, whereof many links and 
planks have now disappeared. The old woman who 
took the plaiting-school in her youth is long since 
dead ; so is the postmaster- just and kindly old fellow ! 
whose mind was the chronicle and the Domesday 
Book of a whole neighbourhood. 'Mrs. Jellison' owed 
some of her talk and her characteristics to a dear 
humourist of eighty-nine, who has only just passed 
away my friend of many years. Her last days were 
marked by an adventure that suggests much. For 
years her life had been lived between her little kitchen 
downstairs and her bedroom above. She never crossed 
the threshold of her cottage, though her knowledge 
of what went on in the village, where she called us 
all, indiscriminately, rich and poor, by our Christian 
names, was extraordinarily extensive and vivacious. 
Then existence began to flicker, and it was evident 

[ xiv ] 


that the end was near. But she still crept downstairs 
every day, and the grey eye would light up from time 
to time as whimsically as ever. At last one spring 
evening, in the dusk, she suddenly rose on her feet, and 
said that she must go to Tring. Tring is three miles 
from Aldbury, and it was thither, in her youth and 
married life, that every week she had been accus- 
tomed to carry her own straw-plait and that of her 
neighbours to the factor who bought from the villages 
round. The straw-plaiting as a commercial industry, 
apart from philanthropic revivals, is dead among us ; 
but the old impulse .stirred in my poor friend and 
would not be gainsaid. Down the hill she went, nimbly 
almost, refusing help. She came to the village green, 
and the village pond, which she had not seen for years, 
and looked round her bewildered, yet with brightness. 
It seemed to her that this was Tring ; that she had 
reached her goal, and beheld the great world once 
more. Then she began to totter ; the anxious daugh- 
ter and friend with her caught her in their arms, and 
with difficulty half-led, half-carried her home. They 
took her to her bed, which she did not leave again ; 
but all through the waiting days she lay satisfied and 
still, occasionally smiling. She had had her way, and 
looked her last; she had no grievances, it seemed, 
against God or man ; she seemed rather to bid those 
near her a cheerful though a silent good-bye; and 
presently she quietly closed her eyes and died. 

The general scenery of ' Marcella * is drawn partly 
from the Hampden country, partly from the neigh- 
bourhood of Stocks. I have said something already 

[ XV ] 


in the introduction to an earlier novel of the beautiful 
dismantled house in which we spent the summer of 
1889, the house whence John Hampden rode to the 
battle of Chalgrove Field, and whither he was brought 
back for burial. The long falling avenue, with the 
two ruinous gate-houses at its further end on which 
Marcella looks out in the opening scene of the book, 
was ours, for strolling and delight, through a golden 
August and September. The gate-houses have been 
rebuilt, the gates replaced, but still the green path 
mounts through the fern, and the beeches stand on 
either hand. In the valley below, there runs a railway, 
new since we were there, and the local towns have 
begun to enlarge their borders. But the Chiltern up- 
lands, west and south of Hampden, may be reckoned 
to-day among the wildest and loneliest stretches of 
southern England. The long wood-carts with the huge 
beech-trunks swaying behind them, and the straining 
horses in front, haunt the Chiltern lanes precisely as 
they must have done when the Elizabethan portions 
of Hampden House were building, or a century later, 
when couriers from London brought news along the 
Uxbridge and Amersham road to the patriot master 
of Hampden, and his Cromwell kinsfolk at Chequers. 
The chair-makers still rear their huts in the great 
woods, for the first and simpler processes of their 
industry ; and the chair-factories down at Wycombe 
draw the youth from the villages, and provide an 
alternative to the farm-life of the hills. In these twenty 
years there is little changed. Nor can one easily fore- 
see a time when old custom and tranquil living will 
cease to make their stronghold in the Chiltern woods. 

[ xvi ] 


As to the ideas I tried to embody in 'Marcella/ the 
clash of old and new, of the righteous impatience of 
the poor with the compunctions or the selfishness 
of the rich, the book owed a good deal to the found- 
ing of a Settlement in which I was concerned, not long 
after the appearance of ' Robert Elsmere.' University 
Hall, which seven years later became the Passmore 
Edwards Settlement, was started in 1890 with the 
ambition of combining a new Christian teaching, a 
'Didache' freely influenced by criticism and science, 
with a practical social helpfulness. The enterprise, 
which has attracted to itself the continuous effort and 
affection of many supporters, has gone through vari- 
ous phases, and is now represented by the beautiful 
building in Tavistock Place, with its many activities 
and opportunities for grown men and women, its clubs 
for boys and girls, the Cripple School on its eastern 
side, the crowds of children who throng it and the 
garden behind it after school-hours, for indoor or out- 
door play, according to the season; while that new 
Christian 'Didache/ to which the Settlement found- 
ers hoped to bring a modest aid, is furthered year by 
year by the ' Jowett Lectures ' on Christian origins 
and Christian philosophy, in which distinguished men 
of all shades of thought have now co-operated for 
some fifteen years. But in 1890 and for the five or 
six years which followed, it was very inconveniently 
housed, partly in Gordon Square, partly in Marchmont 
Street. We were feeling our way, growing constantly, 
yet not precisely along the lines originally laid down. 
The first unity of impulse could not be preserved ; but 
for disappointment in some directions, there was ample 
[ xvii ] 


compensation in others, and the knowledge that it 
has brought to myself both of working-class life in 
London, and of the various types of men and women 
who feel the shame of our social miseries, and are 
driven thereby to some persistent effort to mend 
them, has been most precious, though, owing to the 
constant pressure of literary work, more limited and 
partial than I had once hoped. During our Oxford 
life, I saw little or nothing, personally, of what is 
called the working-class, either in town or country. 
Now, through the Settlement, I made some friends 
amongst London artisans and labourers, from whom 
I learned much ; and especially was I brought across 
the various strains of social theory then chiefly in 
vogue. Those were the days of the early Fabians, and 
the Fabian Essays. Collectivist ideas were making 
way in the educated middle class, and all who watched 
the world with any intelligence had their eyes fixed 
on the rise and progress of Social Democracy in Ger- 
many. Arnold Toynbee's beautiful life had not long 
closed ; the doctrines of Henry George and the single- 
taxers had been sweeping through the working-class, 
like a tidal wave, from one end of England to the other, 
leaving, when it subsided, a hidden deposit which per- 
haps only now in these latest years I write while 
Mr. Lloyd George's Budget of 1909 is pursuing its 
tempestuous way through the House of Commons - 
is revealing its presence and effect, in the growth and 
luxuriance of conceptions and programmes which have 
at last become the battle-cries of practical politics. A 
reader of ' Marcella ' will feel, I think, that those were 
early days. The struggle of the ideas and interests 
[ xviii ] 


concerned is much hotter now, and will be hotter yet. 
But I venture to think that most of the leading forces 
and social philosophies we now find ourselves amongst 
always excepting the reappearance of a protection- 
ist party are to be felt in 'Marcella,' though the 
result, no doubt, is too conservative to satisfy the 
Socialist of any date, and too bound up with Caird- 
ian and Greenian idealism to please that ardent 
agnostic youth of our own day, into whose minds the 
stern yet passionate creed of George Meredith falls 
like spark on tinder. The picture too is seen through 
a woman's eyes ; a man would have reported it differ- 
ently. But in the world of literature let a woman- 
writer maintain the woman's impression and the 
woman's report are no less vital, no less necessary to 
the utterance of a generation than the man's. 


If Nature put not forth her power 
About the opening of the flower, 
Who is it that could live an hour?' 



THE mists and the sun and the first streaks of 
yellow in the beeches beautiful ! beautiful!' 

And with a long breath of delight Marcella Boyce 
threw herself on her knees by the window she had just 
opened, and, propping her face upon her hands, de- 
voured the scene before her with that passionate in- 
tensity of pleasure which had been her gift and heritage 
through life. 

She looked out upon a broad and level lawn, 
smoothed by the care of centuries, flanked on either 
side by groups of old trees some Scotch firs, some 
beeches, a cedar or two groups where the slow se- 
lective hand of Time had been at work for generations, 
developing here the delightful roundness of quiet mass 
and shade, and there the bold caprice of bare fir trunks 
and ragged branches, standing black against the sky. 
Beyond the lawn stretched a green descent indefinitely 
long, carrying the eye indeed almost to the limit of the 
view, and becoming from the lawn onwards a wide 
irregular avenue, bordered by beeches of a splendid 
maturity, ending at last in a far distant gap where a 
gate and a gate of some importance clearly 
should have been, yet was not. The size of the trees, 
the wide uplands of the falling valley to the left of the 
avenue, now rich in the tints of harvest, the autumn 
sun pouring steadily through the vanishing mists, the 
green breadth of the vast lawn, the unbroken peace 

[ 3 ] 


of wood and cultivated ground, all carried with them 
a confused general impression of well-being and of 
dignity. Marcella drew it in this impression - 
with avidity. Yet at the same moment she noticed in- 
voluntarily the gateless gap at the end of the avenue, 
the choked condition of the garden-paths on either 
side of the lawn, and the unsightly tufts of grass spot- 
ting the broad gravel terrace beneath her window. 

' It is a heavenly place, all said and done/ she pro- 
tested to herself with a little frown. ' But no doubt it 
would have been better still if Uncle Robert had looked 
after it and we could afford to keep the garden decent. 
Still ' 

She dropped on a stool beside the open window, and 
as her eyes steeped themselves afresh in what they 
saw, the frown disappeared again in the former look 
of glowing content that content of youth which is 
never merely passive, nay, rather contains an invari- 
able element of covetous eagerness. 

It was but three months or so since Marcella 's 
father, Mr. Richard Boyce, had succeeded to the 
ownership of Mellor Park, the old home of the Boyces, 
and it was little more than six weeks since Marcella 
had received her summons home from the students' 
boarding-house in Kensington, where she had been 
lately living. She had ardently wished to assist in 
the June 'settling-in/ having not been able to apply 
her mind to the music or painting she was supposed 
to be studying, nor indeed to any other subject what- 
ever, since the news of their inheritance had reached 
her. But her mother, in a dry little note, had let it 
be known that she preferred to manage the move for 

[ 4 ] 

Mellor Park, the Avenue Front 


herself. Marcella had better go on with her studies as 
long as possible. 

Yet Marcella was here at last. And as she looked 
round her large bare room, with its old dilapidated 
furniture, and then out again to woods and lawns, 
it seemed to her that all was now well, and that her 
childhood with its squalors and miseries was blotted 
out atoned for by this last kind sudden stroke of 
fate, which might have been delayed so deplorably ! - 
since no one could have reasonably expected that an 
apparently sound man of sixty would have succumbed 
in three days to the sort of common chill a hunter and 
sportsman must have resisted successfully a score of 
times before. 

Her great desire now was to put the past the 
greater part of it at any rate behind her altogether. 
Its shabby worries were surely done with, poor as she 
and her parents still were, relatively to their present 
position. At least she was no longer the self-conscious 
school-girl, paid for at a lower rate than her com- 
panions, stinted in dress, pocket-money, and educa- 
tion, and fiercely resentful at every turn of some real 
or fancied slur; she was no longer even the half- 
Bohemian student of these past two years, enjoying 
herself in London so far as the iron necessity of keep- 
ing her boarding-house expenses down to the lowest 
possible figure would allow. She was something 
altogether different. She was Marcella Boyce, a 
'finished' and grown-up young woman of twenty-one, 
the only daughter and child of Mr. Boyce of Mellor 
Park, inheritress of one of the most ancient names in 
Midland England, and just entering on a life which to 

[ 5 ] 


her own fancy and will, at any rate, promised the 
highest possible degree of interest and novelty. 

Yet, in the very act of putting her past away from 
her, she only succeeded, so it seemed, in inviting it to 
repossess her. 

For against her will, she fell straightway in this 
quiet of the autumn morning into a riot of memory, 
setting her past self against her present more con- 
sciously than she had done yet, recalling scene after 
scene and stage after stage with feelings of sarcasm, 
or amusement, or disgust, which showed themselves 
freely as they came and went, in the fine plastic face 
turned to the September woods. 

She had been at school since she was nine years old 
there was the dominant fact in these motley un- 
comfortable years behind her, which, in her young 
ignorance of the irrevocableness of living, she wished 
so impatiently to forget. As to the time before her 
school life, she had a dim memory of seemly and 
pleasant things, of a house in London, of a large and 
bright nursery, of a smiling mother who took constant 
notice of her, of games, little friends, and birthday 
parties. What had led to the complete disappearance 
of this earliest 'set/ to use a theatrical phrase, from 
the scenery of her childhood, Marcella did not yet 
adequately know, though she had some theories and 
many suspicions in the background of her mind. But 
at any rate this first image of memory was succeeded 
by another precise as the first was vague the image 
of a tall white house, set against a white chalk cliff 
rising in terraces behind it and alongside it, where she 
had spent the years from nine to fourteen, and where, 

t 6 ] 


if she were set down blindfold, now, at twenty-one, she 
could have found her way to every room and door 
and cupboard and stair with a perfect and fascinated 

When she entered that house she was a lanky, black- 
eyed creature, tall for her age, and endowed, or, as she 
herself would have put it, cursed, with an abundance 
of curly unmanageable hair, whereof the brushing and 
tending soon became to a nervous clumsy child, not 
long parted from her nurse, one of the worst plagues 
of her existence. During her home life she had been 
an average child of the quick and clever type, with 
average faults. But something in the bare, ugly rooms, 
the discipline, the teaching, the companionship of Miss 
Frederick's Cliff House School for Young Ladies, 
transformed little Marcella Boyce, for the time being, 
into a demon. She hated her lessons, though, when she 
chose, she could do them in a hundredth part of the 
time taken by her companions; she hated getting up 
in the wintry dark, and her cold ablutions with some 
dozen others in the comfortless lavatory; she hated 
the meals in the long school-room, where, because 
twice meat was forbidden and twice pudding allowed, 
she invariably hungered fiercely for more mutton and 
scorned her second course, making a sort of dramatic 
story to herself out of Miss Frederick's tyranny and 
her own thwarted appetite as she sat, black-browed 
and brooding, in her place. She was not a favour- 
ite with her companions, and she was a perpetual dif- 
ficulty and trouble to her perfectly well-intentioned 
schoolmistress. The whole of her first year was one 
continual series of sulks, quarrels, and revolts. 

[ 7 ] 


Perhaps her blackest days were the days she spent 
occasionally in bed, when Miss Frederick, at her wit's 
end, would take advantage of one of the child's per- 
petual colds to try the effects of a day's seclusion and 
solitary confinement, administered in such a form that 
it could do her charge no harm, and might, she hoped, 
do her good. 'For I do believe a great part of it's liver 
or nerves ! No child in her right senses could behave 
so,' she would declare to the mild and stout French 
lady who had been her partner for years, and who was 
more inclined to befriend and excuse Marcella than 
any one else in the house no one exactly knew why. 

Now the rule of the house when any girl was ordered 
to bed with a cold was, in the first place, that she 
should not put her arms outside the bedclothes - 
for if you were allowed to read and amuse yourself in 
bed you might as well be up; that the housemaid 
should visit the patient in the early morning with a 
cup of senna-tea, and at long and regular intervals 
throughout the day with beef -tea and gruel ; and that 
no one should come to see and talk with her unless, 
indeed, it were the doctor, quiet being in all cases of 
sickness the first condition of recovery, and the natural 
school-girl in Miss Frederick's persuasion being more 
or less inclined to complain without cause if illness 
were made agreeable. 

For some fourteen hours, therefore, on these days 
of durance Marcella was left almost wholly alone, no- 
thing but a wild mass of black hair and a pair of 
roving, defiant eyes in a pale face showing above the 
bedclothes whenever the housemaid chose to visit 
her a pitiable morsel, in truth, of rather forlorn 

[ 8 ] 


humanity. For though she had her moments of fierce 
revolt, when she was within an ace of throwing the 
senna-tea in Martha's face, and rushing downstairs in 
her night-gown to denounce Miss Frederick in the midst 
of an astonished school-room, something generally inter- 
posed ; not conscience, it is to be feared, or any wish 
'to be good/ but only an aching, inmost sense of 
childish loneliness and helplessness ; a perception that 
she had indeed tried everybody's patience to the limit, 
and that these days in bed represented crises which 
must be borne with even by such a rebel as Marcie 

So she submitted, and presently learnt, under dire 
stress of boredom, to amuse herself a good deal by 
developing a natural capacity for dreaming awake. 
Hour by hour she followed out an endless story of 
which she was always the heroine. Before the annoy- 
ance of her afternoon gruel, which she loathed, was 
well forgotten, she was in full fairyland again, figuring 
generally as the trusted friend and companion of the 
Princess of Wales of that beautiful Alexandra, 
the top and model of English society, whose portrait 
in the window of the little stationer's shop at Marswell 
the small country town near Cliff House had 
attracted the child's attention once, on a dreary walk, 
and had ever since governed her dreams. Marcella 
had no fairy-tales, but she spun a whole cycle for her- 
self around the lovely Princess, who came to seem to 
her before long her own particular property. She had 
only to shut her eyes and she had caught her idol's 
attention either by some look or act of passionate 
yet unobtrusive homage as she passed the royal carriage 

[ 9 1 


in the street or by throwing herself in front of the 
divinity's runaway horses or by a series of social 
steps easily devised by an imaginative child, well 
aware, in spite of appearances, that she was of an 
old family and had aristocratic relations. Then, when 
the Princess had held out a gracious hand and smiled, 
all was delight ! Marcella grew up on the instant : she 
was beautiful, of course; she had, so people said, the 
'Boyce eyes and hair'; she had sweeping gowns, gen- 
erally of white muslin with cherry-coloured ribbons; 
she went here and there with the Princess, laughing 
and talking quite calmly with the greatest people in 
the land, her romantic friendship with the adored of 
England making her all the time the observed of all 
observers, bringing her a thousand delicate flatteries 
and attentions. 

Then, when she was at the very top of ecstasy, float- 
ing in the softest summer sea of fancy, some little noise 
would startle her into opening her eyes, and there be- 
side her in the deepening dusk would be the bare white 
beds of her two dormitory companions, the ugly wall- 
paper opposite, and the uncovered boards with their 
frugal strips of carpet stretching away on either 
hand. The tea-bell would ring perhaps in the depths 
far below, and the sound would complete the trans- 
formation of the Princess's maid-of -honour into Marcie 
Boyce, the plain naughty child, whom nobody cared 
about, whose mother never wrote to her, who in con- 
trast to every other girl in school had not a single 
'party frock/ and who would have to choose next 
morning between another dumb day of senna-tea and 
gruel, supposing she chose to plead that her cold was 

[ 10 ] 


still obstinate, or getting up at half -past six to repeat 
half a page of Ince's 'Outlines of English History' in 
the chilly school-room, at seven. 

Looking back now as from another world on that 
unkempt, fractious Marcie of Cliff House, the Marcella 
of the present saw with a mixture of amusement and 
self-pity that one great aggravation of that child's 
daily miseries had been a certain injured, irritable sense 
of social difference between herself and her compan- 
ions. Some proportion of the girls at Cliff House were 
drawn from the tradesman class of two or three neigh- 
bouring towns. Their tradesman papas were some- 
times ready to deal on favourable terms with Miss 
Frederick for the supply of her establishment ; in which 
case the young ladies concerned evidently felt them- 
selves very much at home, and occasionally gave 
themselves airs which alternately mystified and en- 
raged a little spitfire outsider like Marcella Boyce. 
Even at ten years old she perfectly understood that 
she was one of the Boyces of Brookshire, and that her 
great-uncle had been a famous Speaker of the House 
of Commons. The portrait of this great-uncle had hung 
in the dining-room of that pretty London house which 
now seemed so far away; her father had again and 
again pointed it out to the child, and taught her to 
be proud of it; and more than once her childish eye 
had been caught by the likeness between it and an 
old grey-haired gentleman who occasionally came to 
see them, and whom she called 'Grandpapa.' Through 
one influence and another she had drawn the glory 
of it, and the dignity of her race generally, into her 
childish blood. There they were now the glory and 

1 11 ] 


the dignity a feverish leaven, driving her perpet- 
ually into the most crude and ridiculous outbreaks, 
which could lead to nothing but humiliation. 

'I wish my great-uncle were here! He'd make you 
remember you great you great big bully, you ! ' 
she shrieked on one occasion when she had been 
defying a big girl in authority, and the big girl the 
stout and comely daughter of a local ironmonger 
had been successfully asserting herself. 

The big girl opened her eyes wide and laughed. 

' Your great-uncle ! Upon my word ! And who may 
he be, Miss? If it comes to that, I'd like to show my 
great-uncle David how you've scratched my wrist. 
He'd give it to you. He's almost as strong as father, 
though he is so old. You get along with you, and 
behave yourself, and don't talk stuff to me/ 

Whereupon Marcella, choking with rage and tears, 
found herself pushed out of the school-room and the 
door shut upon her. She rushed up to the top terrace, 
which was the school playground, and sat there in 
a hidden niche of the wall, shaking and crying, now 
planning vengeance on her conqueror, and now hot 
all over with the recollection of her own ill-bred and 
impotent folly. 

No during those first two years the only pleasures, 
so memory declared, were three : the visits of the cake- 
woman on Saturday Marcella sitting in her window 
could still taste the three-cornered puffs and small 
sweet pears on which, as much from a fierce sense of 
freedom and self-assertion as anything else, she had 
lavished her tiny weekly allowance; the mad games 
of 'tig,' which she led and organised in the top play- 


ground ; and the kindnesses of fat Mademoiselle Renier, 
Miss Frederick's partner, who saw a likeness in Mar- 
cella to a long-dead small sister of her own, and surrep- 
titiously indulged 'the little wild-cat/ as the school 
generally dubbed the Speaker's great-niece, whenever 
she could. 

But with the third year fresh elements and interests 
had entered in. Romance awoke, and with it certain 
sentimental affections. In the first place, a taste for 
reading had rooted itself reading of the adventurous 
and poetical kind. There were two or three books which 
Marcella had absorbed in a way it now made her 
envious to remember. For at twenty-one people who 
take interest in many things, and are in a hurry to 
have opinions, must skim and 'turn over' books rather 
than read them, must use indeed as best they may 
a scattered and distracted mind, and suffer occasional' 
pangs of conscience as pretenders. But at thirteen 
what concentration! what devotion! what joy! One 
of these precious volumes was Bulwer's 'Rienzi'; 
another was Miss Porter's 'Scottish Chiefs'; a third 
was a little red volume of 'Marmion' which an aunt 
had given her. She probably never read any of them 
through she had not a particle of industry or 
method in her composition but she lived in them. 
The parts which it bored her to read she easily invented 
for herself, but the scenes and passages which thrilled 
her she knew by heart; she had no gift for verse- 
making, but she laboriously wrote a long poem on 
the death of Rienzi, and she tried again and again 
with a not inapt hand to illustrate for herself in pen 
and ink the execution of Wallace. 

[ 13 1 


But all these loves for things and ideas were soon 
as nothing in comparison with a friendship, and an 

To take the adoration first. When Marcella came to 
Cliff House, she was recommended by the same re- 
lation who gave her 'Marmion' to the kind offices of 
the clergyman of the parish, who happened to be 
known to some of the Boyce family. He and his wife 
- they had no children did their duty amply by 
the odd, undisciplined child. They asked her to tea 
once or twice; they invited her to the school-treat, 
where she was only self-conscious and miserably shy ; 
and Mr. Ellerton had at least one friendly and pastoral 
talk with Miss Frederick as to the difficulties of her 
pupil's character. For a long time little came of it. 
Marcella was hard to tame, and when she went to 
tea at the Rectory Mrs. Ellerton, who was refined 
and sensible, did not know what to make of her, 
though in some unaccountable way she was drawn 
to and interested by the child. But with the expan- 
sion of her thirteenth year there suddenly developed 
in Marcie's stormy breast an overmastering, absorbing 
passion for these two persons. She did not show it 
to them much, but for herself it raised her to another 
plane of existence, gave her new objects and new stand- 
ards. She who had hated going to church now counted 
time entirely by Sundays. To see the pulpit occupied 
by any other form and face than those of the rector was 
a calamity hard to be borne; if the exit of the school 
party were delayed by any accident so that Mr. and 
Mrs. Ellerton overtook them in the churchyard, Mar- 
cella would walk home on air, quivering with a passion- 

[ 14 ] 


ate delight, and in the dreary afternoon of the school 
Sunday she would spend her time happily in trying 
to write down the heads of Mr. Ellerton's sermon. 
In the natural course of things she would, at this 
time, have taken no interest in such things at all, 
but whatever had been spoken by him had grace, 
thrill, meaning. 

Nor was the week quite barren of similar delights. 
She was generally sent to practise on an old square 
piano in one of the top rooms. The window in front 
of her overlooked the long white drive and the distant 
highroad into which it ran. Three times a week on 
an average Mrs. Ellerton's pony-carriage might be 
expected to pass along that road. Every day Marcella 
watched for it, alive with expectation, her fingers 
strumming as they pleased. Then with the first gleam 
of the white pony in the distance, over would go the 
music-stool, and the child leapt to the window, re- 
maining fixed there, breathing quick and eagerly till 
the trees on the left had hidden from her the graceful, 
erect figure of Mrs. Ellerton. Then her moment of 
Paradise was over; but the afterglow of it lasted for 
the day. 

So much for romance, for feelings as much like love 
as childhood can know them, full of kindling charm 
and mystery. Her friendship had been of course differ- 
ent, but it also left deep mark. A tall, consumptive 
girl among the Cliff House pupils, the motherless 
daughter of a clergyman-friend of Miss Frederick's, 
had for some time taken notice of Marcella, and at 
length won her by nothing else, in the first instance, 
than a remarkable gift for story-telling. She was a 
[ 15 ] 


parlour-boarder, had a room to herself, and a fire in 
it when the weather was cold. She was not held 
strictly to lesson -hours; many delicacies in the way 
of food were provided for her, and Miss Frederick 
watched over her with a quite maternal solicitude. 
When winter came she developed a troublesome cough, 
and the doctor recommended that a little suite of 
rooms looking south and leading out on the middle 
terrace of the garden should be given up to her. 
There was a bedroom, an intermediate dressing-room, 
and then a little sitting-room built out upon the ter- 
race, with a window-door opening upon it. 

Here Mary Lant spent week after week. Whenever 
lesson-hours were done she clamoured for Marcie 
Boyce, and Marcella was always eager to go to her. 
She would fly up stairs and passages, knock at the 
bedroom-door, run down the steps to the queer little 
dressing-room where the roof nearly came on your 
head, and down more steps again to the sitting-room. 
Then when the door was shut, and she was crooning 
over the fire with her friend, she was entirely happy. 
The tiny room was built on the edge of the terrace, 
the ground fell rapidly below it, and the west window 
commanded a broad expanse of tame, arable country, 
of square fields and hedges, and scattered wood. Mar- 
cella, looking back upon that room, seemed always to 
see it flooded with the rays of wintry sunset, a kettle 
boiling on the fire, her pale friend in a shawl crouch- 
ing over the warmth, and the branches of a snow- 
berry tree, driven by the wind, beating against the 

But what a story-teller was Mary Lant! She was 
[ 16 ] 


the inventor of a story called 'John and Julia/ which 
went on for weeks and months without ever producing 
the smallest satiety in Marcella. Unlike her books of 
adventure, this was a domestic drama of the purest 
sort ; it was extremely moral and evangelical, designed 
indeed by its sensitively religious author for Marcie's 
correction and improvement. There was in it a sub- 
lime hero, who set everybody's faults to rights and 
lectured the heroine. In real life Marcella would 
probably before long have been found trying to kick 
his shins a mode of warfare of which in her demon 
moods she was past-mistress. But as Mary Lant 
described him, she not only bore with and trembled 
before him, she adored him. The taste for him and 
his like, as well as for the story-teller herself, a girl 
of a tremulous, melancholy fibre, sweet-natured, pos- 
sessed by a Calvinist faith, and already prescient of 
death, grew upon her. Soon her absorbing desire 
was to be altogether shut up with Mary, except on 
Sundays and at practising times. For this purpose 
she gave herself the worst cold she could achieve, and 
cherished diligently what she proudly considered to 
be a racking cough. But Miss Frederick was deaf to 
the latter, and only threatened the usual upstairs se- 
clusion and senna-tea for the former, whereupon Mar- 
cella in alarm declared that her cold was much better 
and gave up the cough in despair. It was her first 
sorrow and cost her some days of pale brooding and 
silence, and some nights of stifled tears, when during 
an Easter holiday a letter from Miss Frederick to her 
mother announced the sudden death of Mary Lant. 


t RIENDSHIP and love are humanising things, and by 
her fourteenth year Marcella was no longer a clever 
little imp, but a fast-maturing and in some ways re- 
markable girl, with much of the woman in her already. 
She had begun even to feel an interest in her dress, 
to speculate occasionally on her appearance. At the 
fourth breaking-up party after her arrival at Cliff 
House, Marcella, who had usually figured on these 
occasions in a linsey-woolsey high to the throat, amid 
the frilled and sashed splendours of her companions, 
found lying on her bed, when she went up with the 
others to dress, a plain white muslin dress with blue 
ribbons. It was the gift of old Mademoiselle Renier, 
who affectionately wished her queer, neglected favour- 
ite to look well. Marcella examined it and fingered it 
with an excited mixture of feelings. First of all there 
was the sore and swelling bitterness that she should 
owe such things to the kindness of the French gov- 
erness, whereas finery for the occasion had been freely 
sent to all the other girls from 'home/ She very 
nearly turned her back upon the bed and its pretty 
burden. But then the mere snowy whiteness of the 
muslin and freshness of the ribbons, and the burning 
curiosity to see herself decked therein, overcame a 
nature which, in the midst of its penury, had been 
always really possessed by a more than common 
hunger for sensuous beauty and seemliness. Marcella 

[ 18 ] 


wore it, was stormily happy in it, and kissed Made- 
moiselle Renier for it at night with an effusion, nay, 
some tears, which no one at Cliff House had ever 
witnessed in her before except with the accompani- 
ments of rage and fury. 

A little later her father came to see her, the first 
and only visit he paid to her at school. Marcella, to 
whom he was by now almost a stranger, received him 
demurely, making no confidences, and took him over 
the house and gardens. When he was about to leave 
her a sudden upswell of paternal sentiment made him 
ask her if she was happy and if she wanted anything. 

'Yes!' said Marcella, her large eyes gleaming; 'tell 
mamma I want a "fringe." Every other girl in the 
school has got one/ 

And she pointed disdainfully to her plainly parted 
hair. Her father, astonished by her unexpected ve- 
hemence, put up his eye-glass and studied the child's 
appearance. Three days later, by her mother's per- 
mission, Marcella was taken to the hairdresser at Mars- 
well by Mademoiselle Renier, returned in all the glories 
of a 'fringe,' and, in acknowledgement thereof, wrote 
her mother a letter which for the first time had some- 
thing else than formal news in it. 

Meanwhile new destinies were preparing for her. 
For a variety of small reasons Mr. Boyce, who had 
never yet troubled himself about the matter from a 
distance, was not, upon personal inspection, very 
favourably struck with his daughter's surroundings. 
His wife remarked shortly, when he complained to 
her, that Marcella seemed to her as well off as the 
daughter of persons of their means could expect to be. 


But Mr. Boyce stuck to his point. He had just learnt 
that Harold, the only son of his widowed brother 
Robert, of Mellor Park, had recently developed a 
deadly disease, which might be long, but must in the 
end be sure. If the young man died and he outlived 
Robert, Mellor Park would be his; they would and 
must return, in spite of certain obstacles, to their 
natural rank in society, and Marcella must of course 
be produced as his daughter and heiress. When his 
wife repulsed him, he went to his eldest sister, an old 
maid with a small income of her own, who happened 
to be staying with them, and was the only member of 
his family with whom he was now on terms. She was 
struck with his remarks, which bore on family pride, 
a commodity not always to be reckoned on in the 
Boyces, but which she herself possessed in abundance ; 
and when he paused she slowly said that if an ideal 
school of another type could be found for Marcella, 
she would be responsible for what it might cost over 
and above the present arrangement. Marcella's man- 
ners were certainly rough ; it was difficult to say what 
she was learning, or with whom she was associating; 
accomplishments she appeared to have none. Some- 
thing should certainly be done for her considering 
the family contingencies. But being a strong evan- 
gelical, the aunt stipulated for 'religious influences,' 
and said she would write to a friend. 

The result was that a month or two later Marcella, 
now close on her fourteenth birthday, was transferred 
from Cliff House to the charge of a lady who managed 
a small but much-sought-after school for young ladies 
at Solesby, a watering-place on the east coast. 

[20 ] 


But when in the course of reminiscence Marcella 
found herself once more at Solesby, memory began to 
halt and wander, to choose another tone and method. 
At Solesby the rough surroundings and primitive 
teaching of Cliff House, together with her own burn- 
ing sense of inferiority and disadvantage, had troubled 
her no more. She was well taught there, and developed 
quickly from the troublesome child into the young 
lady duly broken-in to all social proprieties. But it 
was not her lessons or her dancing-masters that she 
remembered. She had made for herself agitations at 
Cliff House, but what were they as compared to the 
agitations of Solesby! Life there had been one long 
Wertherish romance in which there were few incidents, 
only feelings, which were themselves events. It con- 
tained humiliations and pleasures, but they had been 
all matters of spiritual relation, connected with one 
figure only the figure of her schoolmistress, Miss 
Pemberton ; and with one emotion only a passion, 
an adoration, akin to that she had lavished on the 
Ellertons, but now much more expressive and mature. 
A tall, slender woman with brown, grey-besprinkled 
hair falling in light curls, after the fashion of our 
grandmothers, on either cheek, and braided into a 
classic knot behind the face of a saint, an enthusiast 
eyes overflowing with feeling above a thin, firm 
mouth the mouth of the .obstinate saint, yet sweet 
also : this delicate significant picture was stamped on 
Marcella's heart. What tremors of fear and joy could 
she not remember in connexion with it? what night- 
vigils when a tired girl kept herself through long hours 
awake that she might see at last the door open and 

[21 ] 


a figure with a night-lamp standing an instant in the 
doorway? for Miss Pemberton, who slept little and 
read late, never went to rest without softly going the 
rounds of her pupils' rooms. What storms of contest, 
mainly provoked by Marcella for the sake of the 
emotions, first of combat, then of reconciliation to 
which they led! What a strange development on 
the pupil's side of a certain histrionic gift, a turn for 
imaginative intrigue, for endless small contrivances 
such as might rouse or heighten the recurrent excite- 
ments of feeling ! What agitated moments of religious 
talk! What golden days in the holidays, when long- 
looked-for letters arrived full of religious admonition, 
letters which were carried about and wept over till 
they fell to pieces under the stress of such a worship 
what terrors and agonies of a stimulated conscience 
what remorse for sins committed at school what 
zeal to confess them in letters of a passionate elo- 
quence and what indifference meanwhile to any- 
thing of the same sort that might have happened at 

Strange faculty that women have for thus lavishing 
their heart's blood from their very cradles! Marcella 
could hardly look back now, in the quiet of thought, 
to her five years with Miss Pemberton without a shiver 
of agitation. Yet now she never saw her. It was two 
years since they parted; the school was broken up; 
her idol had gone to India to join a widowed 
brother. It was all over for ever. Those precious 
letters had worn themselves away ; so, too, had Mar- 
cella's religious feelings; she was once more another 


But these two years since she had said good-bye 
to Solesby and her school-days? Once set thinking of 
bygones by the stimulus of Mellor and its novelty, 
Marcella must needs think, too, of her London life, 
of all that it had opened to her, and meant for her. 
Fresh agitations ! fresh passions ! but this time 
impersonal, passions of the mind and sympathies. 

At the time she left Solesby her father and mother 
were abroad, and it was apparently not convenient 
that she should join them. Marcella, looking back, 
could not remember that she had ever been much de- 
sired at home. No doubt she had been often moody 
and tiresome in the holidays; but she suspected - 
nay, was certain that there had been other and 
more permanent reasons why her parents felt her pre- 
sence with them a burden. At any rate, when the 
moment came for her to leave Miss Pemberton, her 
mother wrote from abroad that, as Marcella had of 
late shown decided aptitude both for music and paint- 
ing, it would be well that she should cultivate both 
gifts for a while more seriously than would be possible 
at home. Mrs. Boyce had made inquiries, and was 
quite willing that her daughter should go, for a time, 
to a lady whose address she enclosed, and to whom 
she herself had written a lady who received girl- 
students working at the South Kensington art-classes. 

So began an experience, as novel as it was strenuous. 
Marcella soon developed all the airs of independence 
and all the jargon of two professions. Working with 
consuming energy and ambition, she pushed her gifts 
so far as to become at least a very intelligent, eager, 
and confident critic of the art of other people which 


is much. But though art stirred and trained her, gave 
her new horizons and new standards, it was not in art 
that she found ultimately the chief excitement and 
motive-power of her new life not in art, but in the 
birth of social and philanthropic ardour, the sense of 
a hitherto unsuspected social power. 

One of her girl-friends and fellow-students had two 
brothers in London, both at work at South Kensing- 
ton, and living not far from their sister. The three 
were orphans. They sprang from a nervous, artistic 
stock, and Marcella had never before come near any 
one capable of crowding so much living into the 
twenty-four hours. The two brothers, both of them 
skilful and artistic designers in different lines, and 
hard at work all day, were members of a rising So- 
cialist society, and spent their evenings almost entirely 
on various forms of social effort and Socialist pro- 
paganda. They seemed to Marcella's young eyes ab- 
solutely sincere and quite unworldly. They lived as 
workmen; and both the luxuries and the charities of 
the rich were equally odious to them. That there could 
be any 'right' in private property or private wealth 
had become incredible to them; their minds were 
full of lurid images or resentments drawn from the 
existing state of London ; and though one was humor- 
ous and handsome, the other, short, sickly, and 
pedantic, neither could discuss the Socialist ideal 
without passion, nor hear it attacked without anger. 
And in milder measure their sister, who possessed more 
artistic gift than either of them, was like unto them. 

Marcella saw much of these three persons, and 
something of their friends. She went with them to 

[ 24 ] 


Socialist lectures, or to the public evenings of the 
Venturist Society, to which the brothers belonged. 
Edie, the sister, assaulted the imagination of her 
friend, made her read the books of a certain eminent 
poet and artist, once the poet of love and dreamland, 
'the idle singer of an empty day/ now seer and 
prophet, the herald of an age to come, in which none 
shall possess, though all shall enjoy. The brothers, 
more ambitious, attacked her through the reason, 
brought her popular translations and selections from 
Marx and Lassalle, together with each Venturist pam- 
phlet and essay as it appeared ; they flattered her with 
technical talk; they were full of the importance of 
women to the new doctrine and the new era. 

The handsome brother was certainly in love with 
her; the other, probably. Marcella was not in love 
with either of them, but she was deeply interested in 
all three, and for the sickly brother she felt at that 
time a profound admiration nay, reverence - 
which influenced her vitally at a critical moment of 
life. 'Blessed are the poor' --'Woe unto you, rich 
men' --these were the only articles of his scanty 
creed, but they were held with a fervour, and acted 
upon with a conviction, which our modern religion 
seldom commands. His influence made Marcella a 
rent-collector under a lady friend of his in the East 
End; because of it, she worked herself beyond her 
strength in a joint attempt made by some members of 
the Venturist Society to organise a Tailoresses' Union ; 
and, to please him, she read articles and blue-books 
on Sweating and Overcrowding. It was all very mov- 
ing and very dramatic; so, too, was the persuasion 
[ 25 ] 


Marcella divined in her friends, that she was destined 
in time, with work and experience, to great things and 
high place in the movement. 

The wholly unexpected news of Mr. Boyce's acces- 
sion to Mellor had very various effects upon this little 
band of comrades. It revived in Marcella ambitions, 
instincts, and tastes wholly different from those of her 
companions, but natural to her by temperament and in- 
heritance. The elder brother, Anthony Craven, always 
melancholy and suspicious, divined her immediately. 

'How glad you are to be done with Bohemia!' he 
said to her ironically one day, when he had just dis- 
covered her with the photographs of Mellor about her. 
'And how rapidly it works!' 

'What works?' she asked him angrily. 

'The poison of possession. And what a mean end 
it puts to things ! A week ago you were all given to 
causes not your own; now, how long will it take you 
to think of us as "poor fanatics!" -and to be 
ashamed you ever knew us?' 

'You mean to say that I am a mean hypocrite!' she 
cried. 'Do you think that because I delight in in 
pretty things and old associations, I must give up all 
my convictions? Shall I find no poor at Mellor no 
work to do? It is unkind unfair. It is the way all 
reform breaks down through mutual distrust ! ' 

He looked at her with a cold smile in his dark, 
sunken eyes, and she turned from him indignantly. 

When they bade her good-bye at the station, she 
begged them to write to her. 

'No, no !' said Louis, the handsome younger brother. 
'If ever you want us, we are there. If you write, we 

[ 26 ] 


will answer. But you won't need to think about us yet 
awhile. Good-bye!' 

And he pressed her hand with a smile. 

The good fellow had put all his own dreams and 
hopes out of sight with a firm hand since the arrival 
of her great news. Indeed, Marcella realised in them 
all that she was renounced. Louis and Edith spoke 
with affection and regret. As to Anthony, from the 
moment that he set eyes upon the maid sent to escort 
her to Mellor, and the first-class ticket that had been 
purchased for her, Marcella perfectly understood that 
she had become to him as an enemy. 

'They shall see I will show them!' she said to 
herself with angry energy, as the train whirled her 
away. And her sense of their unwarrantable injustice 
kept her tense and silent till she was roused to a 
childish and passionate pleasure by a first sight of the 
wide lawns and time-stained front of Mellor. 

Of such elements, such memories of persons, things, 
and events, was Marcella's reverie by the window 
made up. One thing, however, which, clearly, this 
report of it has not explained, is that spirit of energetic 
discontent with her past in which she had entered on 
her musings. Why such soreness of spirit? Her child- 
hood had been pinched and loveless; but, after all, it 
could well bear comparison with that of many another 
child of impoverished parents. There had been com- 
pensations all through and was not the great 
passion of her Solesby days, together with the inter- 
est and novelty of her London experience, enough to 
give zest and glow to the whole retrospect? 
[ 27 ] 


Ah! but it will be observed that in this sketch of 
Marcella's school-days nothing has been said of Mar- 
cella's holidays. In this omission the narrative has 
but followed the hasty, half -conscious gaps and slurs 
of the girl's own thought. For Marcella never thought 
of those holidays and all that was connected with 
them in detail, if she could possibly avoid it. But it 
was with them, in truth, and with what they implied, 
that she was so irritably anxious to be done when she 
first began to be reflective by the window ; and it was 
to them she returned with vague, but still intense 
consciousness when the rush of active reminiscence 
died away. 

That surely was the breakfast-bell ringing, and with 
the dignified ancestral sound which was still so novel 
and attractive to Marcella's ear. Recalled to Mellor 
Park and its circumstances, she went thoughtfully 
downstairs, pondering a little on the shallow steps of 
the beautiful Jacobean staircase. Could she ever turn 
her back upon those holidays? Was she not rather, 
so to speak, just embarked upon their sequel, or 
second volume? 

But let us go downstairs also. 


BREAKFAST was laid in the 'Chinese room/ a room 
which formed part of the stately 'garden front/ added 
to the original structure of the house in the eighteenth 
century by a Boyce whose wife had money. The 
decorations, especially of the domed and vaulted roof, 
were supposed by their eighteenth -century designer 
to be ' Oriental ' ; they were, at any rate, intricate and 
overladen ; and the figures of mandarins on the worn 
and discoloured wall-paper had, at least, topknots, 
pigtails, and petticoats to distinguish them from the 
ordinary Englishmen of 1760, besides a charming 
mellowness of colour and general effect bestowed on 
them by time and dilapidation. The marble mantel- 
piece was elaborately carved in Chinamen and pagodas. 
There were Chinese curiosities of a miscellaneous kind 
on the tables, and the beautiful remains of an Indian 
carpet underfoot. Unluckily, some later Boyce had 
thrust a crudely Gothic sideboard, with an arched and 
pillared front, adapted to the purposes of a warming- 
apparatus, into the midst of the mandarins, which 
disturbed the general effect. But with all its original 
absurdities, and its modern defacements, the room 
was a beautiful and stately one. Marcella stepped into 
it with a slight unconscious straightening of her tall 
form. It seemed to her that she had never breathed 
easily till now, in the ample space of these rooms and 

[ 29 ] 


Her father and mother were already at table, to- 
gether with Mrs. Boyce's brown spaniel Lynn. 

Mr. Boyce was employed in ordering about the tall 
boy in a worn and greasy livery coat, who represented 
the men-service of the establishment; his wife was 
talking to her dog, but from the lift of her eyebrows, 
and the twitching of her thin lips, it was plain to Mar- 
cella that her mother was as usual of opinion that her 
father was behaving foolishly. 

'There, for goodness' sake, cut some bread on the 
sideboard/ said the angry master, 'and hand it round 
instead of staring about you like a stuck pig. What 
they taught you at Sir William Jute's I can't conceive. 
/ did n't undertake to make a man-servant of you, sir/ 

The pale, harassed lad flew at the bread, cut it with 
a vast scattering of crumbs, handed it clumsily round, 
and then took glad advantage of a short supply of 
coffee to bolt from the room to order more. 

'Idiot!' said Mr. Boyce, with an angry frown, as he 

'If you would allow Ann to do her proper parlour 
work again/ said his wife, blandly, 'you would, I 
think, be less annoyed. And as I believe William was 
boot-boy at the Jutes', it is not surprising that he did 
not learn waiting/ 

'I tell you, Evelyn, that our position demands a 
man-servant ! ' was the hot reply. 'None of my family 
have ever attempted to run this house with women 
only. It would be unseemly unfitting incon - 

' Oh, I am no judge of course of what a Boyce may 
do ! ' said his wife, carelessly. ' I leave that to you and 
the neighbourhood/ 

[ 30 ] 


Mr. Boyce looked uncomfortable, cooled down, and 
presently when the coffee came back asked his wife 
for a fresh supply in tones from which all bellicosity 
had for the time departed. He was a small and singu- 
larly thin man, with blue wandering eyes under the 
blackest possible eyebrows and hair. The cheeks were 
hollow, the complexion as yellow as that of the typical 
Anglo-Indian. The special character of the mouth was 
hidden by a fine black moustache, but his prevailing 
expression varied between irritability and a kind of 
plaintiveness. The conspicuous blue eyes were as a 
rule melancholy ; but they could be childishly bright 
and self-assertive. There was a general air of breed- 
ing about Richard Boyce, of that air at any rate 
which our common generalisations connect with the 
pride of old family; his dress was careful and cor- 
rect to the last detail ; and his hands with their long 
fingers were of an excessive delicacy, though marred 
as to beauty by a thinness which nearly amounted 
to emaciation. 

'The servants say they must leave unless the ghost 
does, Marcella,' said Mrs. Boyce, suddenly, laying a 
morsel of toast as she spoke on Lynn's nose. ' Some one 
from the village of course has been talking the cook 
says she heard something last night, though she will not 
condescend to particulars and in general it seems 
to me that you and I may be left before long to do the 

'What do they say in the village?' asked Marcella, 

'Oh ! they say there was a Boyce two hundred years 
ago who fled down here from London after doing 
[ 31 ] 


something he should n't - - 1 really forget what. The 
sheriff's officers were advancing on the house. Their 
approach displeased him, and he put an end to himself 
at the head of the little staircase leading from the 
tapestry-room down to my sitting-room. Why did 
he choose the staircase?' said Mrs. Boyce, with light 

'It won't do/ said Marcella, shaking her head. 'I 
know the Boyce they mean. He was a ruffian, but he 
shot himself in London; and, anyway, he was dead 
long before that staircase was built/ 

' Dear me, how well up you are ! ' said her mother. 
'Suppose you give a little lecture on the family in the 
servants' hall. Though I never knew a ghost yet that 
was undone by dates/ 

There was a satiric detachment in her tone which 
contrasted sharply with Marcella 's amused but sym- 
pathetic interest. Detachment was perhaps the char- 
acteristic note of Mrs. Boyce's manner a curious 
separateness, as it were, from all the things and human 
beings immediately about her. 

Marcella pondered. 

'I shall ask Mr. Harden about the stories/ she said 
presently. ' He will have heard them in the village. I 
am going to the church this morning/ 

Her mother looked at her a look of quiet exam- 
ination and smiled. The Lady Bountiful airs that 
Marcella had already assumed during the six weeks 
she had been in the house entertained Mrs. Boyce 

'Harden!' said Mr. Boyce, catching the name. 'I 
wish that man would leave me alone. What have 

[ 32 ] 


I got to do with a water-supply for the village? It will 
be as much as ever I can manage to keep a water- 
tight roof over our heads during the winter after the 
way in which Robert has behaved/ 

Marcella 's cheek flushed. 

'The village water-supply is a disgrace/ she said, 
with low emphasis. 'I never saw such a crew of 
unhealthy, wretched-looking children in my life as 
swarm about those cottages. We take the rent, and 
we ought to look after them. I believe you could be 
forced to do something, papa if the local authority 
were of any use/ 

She looked at him defiantly. 

'Nonsense/ said Mr. Boyce, testily. 'They got 
along in your Uncle Robert's days, and they can get 
along now. Charity, indeed! Why, the state of this 
house and the pinch for money altogether is enough, 
I should think, to take a man's mind. Don't you go 
talking to Mr. Harden in the way you do, Marcella. 
I don't like it, and I won't have it. You have the in- 
terests of your family and your home to think of first/ 

'Poor starved things!' said Marcella, sarcastically 
'living in such a den!' 

And she swept her white hand round, as though 
calling to witness the room in which they sat. 

'I tell you/ said Mr. Boyce, rising and standing 
before the fire, whence he angrily surveyed the hand- 
some daughter who was in truth so little known to 
him, and whose nature and aims during the close 
contact of the last few weeks had become something 
of a perplexity and disturbance to him, ' I tell you 
our great effort, the effort of us all, must be to keep up 
[ 33 ] 


the family position! our position. Look at that 
library, and its condition; look at the state of these 
wall-papers; look at the garden; look at the estate 
books if it comes to that. Why, it will be years before, 
even with all my knowledge of affairs, I can pull the 
thing through years ! ' 

Mrs. Boyce gave a slight cough she had pushed 
back her chair, and was alternately studying her 
husband and daughter. They might have been actors 
performing for her amusement. And yet, amusement 
is not precisely the word. For that hazel eye, with its 
frequent smile, had not a spark of geniality. After 
a time those about her found something scathing in 
its dry light. 

Now, as soon as her husband became aware that she 
was watching him, his look wavered, and his mood 
collapsed. He threw her a curious furtive glance, and 
fell silent. 

'I suppose Mr. Harden and his sister remind you 
of your London Socialist friends, Marcella?' asked 
Mrs. Boyce lightly, in the pause that followed. 'You 
have, I see, taken a great liking for them. ' 

'Oh! well I don't know/ said Marcella, with a 
shrug, and something of a proud reticence. 'Mr. 
Harden is very kind but he does n't seem to have 
thought much about things/ 

She never talked about her London friends to her 
mother, if she could help it. The sentiments of life 
generally avoided Mrs. Boyce when they could. Mar- 
cella, being all sentiment and impulse, was constantly 
her mother's victim, do what she would. But in her 
quiet moments she stood on the defensive. 


'So the Socialists are the only people who think?' 
said Mrs. Boyce, who was now standing by the window, 
pressing her dog's head against her dress as he pushed 
up against her. 'Well, I am sorry for the Hardens. 
They tell me they give all their substance away 
already and every one says it is going to be a 
particularly bad winter. The living, I hear, is worth 
nothing. All the same, I should wish them to look 
more cheerful. It is the first duty of martyrs/ 
' Marcella looked at her mother indignantly. It 
seemed to her often that she said the most heartless 
things imaginable. 

'Cheerful !' she said 'in a village like this with 
all the young men drifting off to London, and all the 
well-to-do people Dissenters no one to stand by 
him no money and no helpers the people always 
ill wages eleven and twelve shillings a week and 
only the old wrecks of men left to do the work! He 
might, I think, expect the people in this house to back 
him up a little. All he asks is that papa should go and 
satisfy himself with his own eyes as to the difference 
between our property and Lord Maxwell's - 

'Lord Maxwell's!' cried Mr. Boyce, rousing himself 
from a state of half-melancholy, half-sleepy reverie 
by the fire, and throwing away his cigarette 'Lord 
Maxwell! Difference! I should think so. Thirty 
thousand a year, if he has a penny. By the way, I 
wish he would just have the civility to answer my note 
about those coverts over by Willow Scrubs ! ' 

He had hardly said the words when the door opened 
to admit William the footman, in his usual tremor of 
nervousness, carrying a salver and a note. 
[ 35 ] 


'The man says, please, sir, is there any answer, sir?' 

'Well, that's odd ! ' said Mr. Boyce, his look brighten- 
ing. 'Here is Lord Maxwell's answer, just as I was 
talking of it.' 

His wife turned sharply and watched him take it ; 
her lips parted, a strange expectancy in her whole 
attitude. He tore it open, read it, and then threw it 
angrily under the grate. 

'No answer. Shut the door/ The lad retreated. 
Mr. Boyce sat down and began carefully to put the 
fire together. His thin left hand shook upon his knee. 

There was a moment's pause of complete silence. 
Mrs. Boyce's face might have been seen by a close 
observer to quiver and then stiffen as she stood in the 
light of the window, a tall and queenly figure in her 
sweeping black. But she said not a word, and pre- 
sently left the room. 

Marcella watched her father. 

'Papa was that a note from Lord Maxwell?' 

Mr. Boyce looked round with a start, as though 
surprised that any one was still there. It struck Mar- 
cella that he looked yellow and shrunken years 
older than her mother. An impulse of tenderness, 
joined with anger and a sudden sick depression she 
was conscious of them all as she got up and went 
across to him, determined to speak out. Her parents 
were not her friends, and did not possess her con- 
fidence; but her constant separation from them since 
her childhood had now sometimes the result of giv- 
ing her the boldness with them that a stranger might 
have had. She had no habitual deference to break 
through, and the hindering restraints of memory, 

[ 36 ] 


though strong, were still less strong than they would 
have been if she had lived with them day by day and 
year by year, and had known their lives in close detail 
instead of guessing at them, as was now so often the 
case with her. 

'Papa, is Lord Maxwell's note an uncivil one?' 

Mr. Boyce stooped forward and began to rub his 
chilly hand over the blaze. 

'Why, that man's only son and I used to loaf and 
shoot and play cricket together from morning till night 
when we were boys. Henry Raeburn was a bit older 
than I, and he lent me the gun with which I shot my 
first rabbit. It was in one of the fields over by Soley- 
hurst, just where the two estates join. After that we 
were always companions we used to go out at night 
with the keepers after poachers; we spent hours in 
the snow watching for wood-pigeons; we shot that 
pair of kestrels over the inner hall door, in the Wind- 
mill Hill fields at least I did I was a better shot 
than he by that time. He did n't like Robert he 
always wanted me/ 

'Well, papa, but what does he say?' asked Marcella, 
impatiently. She laid her hand, however, as she spoke, 
on her father's shoulder. 

Mr. Boyce winced and looked up at her. He and 
her mother had originally sent their daughter away 
from home that they might avoid the daily worry of 
her awakening curiosities, and one of his resolutions 
in coming to Mellor Park had been to keep up his 
dignity with her. But the sight of her dark face 
bent upon him, softened by a quick and womanly com- 
passion, seemed to set free a new impulse in him. 
[ 37 ] 


'He writes in the third person, if you want to know, 
my dear, and refers me to his agent, very much as 
though I were some London grocer who had just 
bought the place. Oh, it is quite evident what he means. 
They were here without moving all through June and 
July, and it is now three weeks at least since he 
and Miss Raeburn came back from Scotland, and not 
a card nor a word from either of them ! Nor from the 
Winterbournes, nor the Levens. Pleasant ! Well, my 
dear, you must make up your mind to it. I did think 
I was fool enough to think that when I came 
back to the old place, my father's old friends would 
let bygones be bygones. I never did them any harm. 
Let them "gang their gait/' confound them!' the 
little dark man straightened himself fiercely ' I can 
get my pleasure out of the land; and as for your 
mother, she'd not lift a finger to propitiate one of 

In the last words, however, there was not a fraction 
of that sympathetic pride which the ear expected, but 
rather fresh bitterness and grievance. 

Marcella stood thinking, her mind travelling hither 
and thither with lightning speed, now over the social 
events of the last six weeks now over incidents of 
those long-past holidays. Was this, indeed, the second 
volume beginning the natural sequel to those old 
mysterious histories of shrinking, disillusion, and re- 

'What was it you wanted about those coverts, 
papa?' she asked presently, with a quick decision. 

'What the deuce does it matter? If you want to 
know, I proposed to him to exchange my coverts over 

[ 38 ] 


by the Scrubs, which work in with his shooting, for 
the wood down by the Home Farm. It was an ex- 
change made year after year in my father's time. 
When I spoke to the keeper, I found it had been 
allowed to lapse. Your uncle let the shooting go to 
rack and ruin after Harold's death. It gave me some- 
thing to write about, and I was determined to know 
where I stood - Well ! the old Pharisee can go his 
way: I'll go mine/ 

And with a spasmodic attempt to play the squire 
of Mellor on his native heath, Richard Boyce rose, 
drew his emaciated frame to its full height, and stood 
looking out drearily to his ancestral lawns a pictur- 
esque and elegant figure, for all its weakness and 

'I shall ask Mr. Aldous Raeburn about it, if I see 
him in the village to-day,' said Marcella, quietly. 

Her father started, and looked at her with some 

'What have you seen of Aldous Raeburn?' he in- 
quired. ' I remember hearing that you had come across 

'Certainly I have come across him. I have met him 
once or twice at the Vicarage and oh ! on one or 
two other occasions,' said Marcella, carelessly. 'He 
has always made himself agreeable. Mr. Harden says 
his grandfather is devoted to him, and will hardly 
ever let him go away from home. He does a great 
deal for Lord Maxwell now : writes for him, and helps 
to manage the estate ; and next year, when the Tories 
come back and Lord Maxwell is in office again ' 

'Why, of course, there'll be plums for the grandson/ 
[ 39 ] 


said Mr. Boyce, with a sneer. 'That goes without 
saying though we are such a virtuous lot.' 

'Oh yes, he'll get on everybody says so. And 
he'll deserve it too!' she added, her eye kindling com- 
batively as she surveyed her father. ' He takes a lot of 
trouble down here about the cottages and the board 
of guardians and the farms. The Hardens like him 
very much, but he is not exactly popular, according 
to them. His manners are sometimes shy and awkward, 
and the poor people think he's proud.' 

'Ah! a prig, I dare say like some of his uncles 
before him,' said Mr. Boyce, irritably. 'But he was 
civil to you, you say?' 

And again he turned a quick considering eye on his 

'Oh dear! yes,' said Marcella, with a little proud 
smile. There was a pause; then she spoke again. 'I 
must go off to the church ; the Hardens have hard 
work just now with the harvest festival, and I pro- 
mised to take them some flowers.' 

'Well,' said her father, grudgingly, 'so long as 
you don't promise anything on my account! I tell 
you, I have n't got sixpence to spend on subscriptions 
to anything or anybody. By the way, if you see Rey- 
nolds anywhere about the drive, you can send him 
to me. He and I are going round the Home Farm to 
pick up a few birds if we can, and see what the coverts 
look like. The stock has all run down, and the place 
has been poached to death. But he thinks if we 
take on an extra man in the spring, and spend 
a little on rearing, we shall do pretty decently next 


The colour leapt to Marcella's cheek as she tied on 
her hat. 

'You will set up another keeper, and you won't do 
anything for the village?' she cried, her black eyes 
lightening, and without another word she opened the 
French window and walked rapidly away along 
the terrace, leaving her father both angered and 

A man like Richard Boyce cannot get comfortably 
through life without a good deal of masquerading in 
which those in his immediate neighbourhood are ex- 
pected to join. His wife had long since consented to 
play the game, on condition of making it plain the 
whole time that she was no dupe. As to what Mar- 
cella's part in the affair might be going to be, her 
father was as yet uneasily in the dark. What con- 
stantly astonished him, as she moved and talked under 
his eye, was the girl's beauty. Surely she had been 
a plain child, though a striking one. But now she had 
not only beauty, but the air of beauty. The self-con- 
fidence given by the possession of good looks was very 
evident in her behaviour. She was very accomplished, 
too, and more clever than was always quite agreeable 
to a father whose self-conceit was one of the few com- 
pensations left him by misfortune. Such a girl was 
sure to be admired. She would have lovers friends 
of her own. It seemed that already, while Lord Max- 
well was preparing to insult the father, his grandson 
had discovered that the daughter was handsome. 
Richard Boyce fell into a miserable reverie, wherein 
the Raeburns' behaviour and Marcella's unexpected 
gifts played about equal parts. 

[ 41 ] 


Meanwhile Marcella was gathering flowers in the 
'cedar garden/ the most adorable corner of Mellor 
Park, where the original Tudor house, grey, mullioned 
and ivy-covered, ran at right angles into the later 
'garden front/ which projected beyond it to the south, 
making thereby a sunny and sheltered corner where 
roses, clematis, hollyhocks, and sunflowers grew with 
a more lavish height and blossom than elsewhere, as 
though conscious they must do their part in a whole 
of beauty. The grass indeed wanted mowing, and the 
first autumn leaves lay thickly drifted upon it; the 
flowers were untied and un trimmed. But under the 
condition of two gardeners to ten acres of garden, 
Nature does very much as she pleases, and Mr. Boyce 
when he came that way grumbled in vain. 

As for Marcella, she was alternately moved to revolt 
and tenderness by the ragged charm of the old place. 

On one hand, it angered her that anything so plainly 
meant for beauty and dignity should go so neglected 
and unkempt. On the other, if house and gardens 
had been spick and span like the other houses of the 
neighbourhood, if there had been sound roofs, a mod- 
ern water-supply, shutters, greenhouses, and weedless 
paths, in short, the general self-complacent air of 
a well-kept country-house, where would have been 
that thrilling, intimate appeal, as for something for- 
lornly lovely, which the old place so constantly made 
upon her ? It seemed to depend even upon her, the 
latest born of all its children to ask for tendance 
and cherishing even from her. She was always plan- 
ning how with a minimum of money to spend - 
it could be comforted and healed, and in the planning 


had grown in these few weeks to love it as though 
she had been bred there. 

But this morning Marcella picked her roses and sun- 
flowers in tumult and depression of spirit. What was 
this past which in these new surroundings was like 
some vainly fled tyrant clutching at them again? She 
energetically decided that the time had come for her 
to demand the truth. Yet, of whom? Marcella knew 
very well that to force her mother to any line of action 
Mrs. Boyce was unwilling to follow, was beyond her 
power. And it was not easy to go to her father directly 
and say, 'Tell me exactly how and why it is that 
society has turned its back upon you/ All the same, 
it was due to them all, due to herself especially, now 
that she was grown up and at home, that she should 
not be kept in the dark any longer like a baby, that 
she should be put in possession of the facts which, 
after all, threatened to stand here at Mellor Park, as 
untowardly in their, in her way, as they had done in 
the shabby school and lodging-house existence of all 
those bygone years. 

Perhaps the secret of her impatience was that she 
did not, and could not, believe that the facts, if faced, 
would turn out to be insurmountable. Her instinct 
told her as she looked back that their relation toward 
society in the past, though full of discomforts and 
humiliations, had not been the relation of outcasts. 
Their poverty and the shifts to which poverty drives 
people had brought them the disrespect of one class ; 
and as to the acquaintances and friends of their own 
rank, what had been mainly shown them had been a 
sort of cool distaste for their company, an insulting 

[ 43 ] 


readiness to forget the existence of people who had, so 
to speak, lost their social bloom, and laid themselves 
open to the contemptuous disapproval or pity of the 
world. Everybody, it seemed, knew their affairs, and 
knowing them saw no personal advantage and dis- 
tinction in the Boyces' acquaintance, but rather the 

As she put the facts together a little, she realised, 
however, that the breach had always been deepest 
between her father and his relations, or his oldest 
friends. A little shiver passed through her as she re- 
flected that here, in his own country, where his history 
was best known, the feeling towards him, whatever it 
rested upon, might very probably be strongest. Well, it 
was hard upon them ! hard upon her mother hard 
upon her. In her first ecstasy over the old ancestral 
house and the dignities of her new position, how little 
she had thought of these things ! And there they were 
all the time dogging and thwarting. 

She walked slowly along, with her burden of flowers, 
through a laurel path which led straight to the drive, 
and so, across it, to the little church. The church stood 
all alone there under the great limes of the Park, far 
away from parsonage and village the property, it 
seemed, of the big house. When Marcella entered, the 
doors on the north and south sides were both standing 
open, for the vicar and his sister had been already at 
work there, and had but gone back to the parsonage 
for a bit of necessary business, meaning to return in 
half an hour. 

It was the unpretending church of a hamlet, girt 
outside by the humble graves of toiling and forgotter 

[ 44 ] 


generations, and adorned, or, at any rate, diversified 
within by a group of mural monuments, of various 
styles and dates, but all of them bearing, in some way 
or another, the name of Boyce conspicuous amongst 
them a florid, cherub-crowned tomb in the chancel, 
marking the remains of that Parliamentarian Boyce 
who fought side by side with Hampden, his boyish 
friend, at Chalgrove Field, lived to be driven out of 
Westminster by Colonel Pryde, and to spend his later 
years at Mellor, in disgrace, first with the Protector, 
and then with the Restoration. From these monu- 
ments alone a tolerably faithful idea of the Boyce 
family could have been gathered. Clearly not a family 
of any very great pretensions a race for the most part 
of frugal, upright country gentlemen to be found, 
with scarcely an exception, on the side of political 
liberty, and of a Whiggish religion ; men who had given 
their sons to die at Quebec, and Plassy, and Trafalgar, 
for the making of England's Empire; who would have 
voted with Fox, but that the terrors of Burke, and 
a dogged sense that the country must be carried on, 
drove them into supporting Pitt; who, at home, dis- 
pensed alternate justice and doles, and when their 
wives died put up inscriptions to them intended to 
bear witness at once to the Latinity of a Boyce's 
education, and the pious strength of his legitimate 
affections a tedious race perhaps and pig-headed, 
tyrannical too here and there, but on the whole hon- 
ourable English stuff the stuff which has made, and 
still in new forms sustains, the fabric of a great state. 
Only once was there a break in the uniform character 
of the monuments a break corresponding to the 
[ 45 ] 


highest moment of the Boyce fortunes, a moment 
when the respectability of the family rose suddenly 
into brilliance, and the prose of generations broke into 
a few years of poetry. Somewhere in the last century 
an earlier Richard Boyce went abroad to make the 
grand tour. He was a man of parts, the friend of 
Horace Walpole and of Gray, and his introductions 
opened to him whatever doors he might wish to 
enter, at a time when the upper classes of the leading 
European nations were far more intimately and famil- 
iarly acquainted with each other than they are now. 
He married at Rome an Italian lady of high birth and 
large fortune. Then he brought her home to Mellor, 
where straightway the garden front was built with all 
its fantastic and beautiful decoration, the great avenue 
was planted, pictures began to invade the house, and 
a musical library was collected whereof the innumer- 
able faded volumes, bearing each of them the entwined 
names of Richard and Marcella Boyce, had been during 
the last few weeks mines of delight and curiosity to the 
Marcella of to-day. 

The Italian wife bore her lord two sons, and then in 
early middle life she died much loved and passion- 
ately mourned. Her tomb bore no long-winded pane- 
gyric. Her name only, her parentage and birthplace - 
for she was Italian to the last, and her husband loved 
her the better for it the dates of her birth and 
death, and then two lines from Dante's 'Vita Nuova/ 

The portrait of this earlier Marcella hung still in 
the room where her music-books survived, a dark 
blurred picture by an inferior hand ; but the Marcella 
of to-day had long since eagerly decided that her own 

[ 46 ] 


physique and her father's were to be traced to its 
original, as well, no doubt, as the artistic aptitudes 
of both aptitudes not hitherto conspicuous in her 
respectable race. 

In reality, however, she loved every one of them 
these Jacobean and Georgian squires with their 
interminable epitaphs. Now, as she stood in the church, 
looking about her, her flowers lying beside her in a 
tumbled heap on the chancel step, cheerfulness, de- 
light, nay, the indomitable pride and exultation of 
her youth, came back upon her in one great lifting 
wave. The depression of her father's repentances and 
trepidations fell away; she felt herself in her place, 
under the shelter of her forefathers, incorporated and 
redeemed, as it were, into their guild of honour. 

There were difficulties in her path, no doubt but 
she had her vantage-ground, and would use it for her 
own profit and that of others. She had no cause for 
shame ; and in these days of the developed individual 
the old solidarity of the family has become injustice 
and wrong. Her mind filled tumultuously with the 
evidence these last two years had brought her of her 
natural power over men and things. She knew per- 
fectly well that she could do and dare what other 
girls of her age could never venture that she had 
fascination, resource, brain. 

Already, in these few weeks Smiles played about 
her lips as she thought of that quiet grave gentleman 
of thirty she had been meeting at the Hardens'. His 
grandfather might write what he pleased. It did not 
alter the fact that during the last few weeks Mr. 
Aldous Raeburn, clearly one of the partis most coveted 
[ 47 ] 


and one of the men most observed, in the neighbour- 
hood, had taken and shown a very marked interest in 
Mr. Boyce's daughter all the more marked because 
of the reserved manner with which it had to contend. 
No ! whatever happened, she would carve her path, 
make her own way, and her parents' too. At twenty- 
one, nothing looks irrevocable. A woman's charm, a 
woman's energy should do it all. 

Aye, and something else too. She looked quickly 
round the church, her mind swelling with the sense 
of the Cravens' injustice and distrust. Never could 
she be more conscious than here on this very spot 
- of mission, of an urging call to the service of man. 
In front of her was the Boyces' family pew, carved 
and becushioned, but behind it stretched bench after 
bench of plain and humble oak, on which the village 
sat when it came to church. Here, for the first time, 
had Marcella been brought face to face with the agri- 
cultural world as it is no stage ruralism, but the 
bare fact in one of its most pitiful aspects. Men of 
sixty and upwards, grey and furrowed like the chalk 
soil into which they had worked their lives; not old 
as age goes, but already the refuse of their generation, 
and paid for at the rate of refuse; with no prospect 
but the workhouse, if the grave should be delayed, 
yet quiet, impassive, resigned, now showing a furtive, 
childish amusement if a school-boy misbehaved, or a 
dog strayed into church, now joining with a stolid 
unconsciousness in the tremendous sayings of the 
Psalms; women coarse, or worn, or hopeless; girls 
and boys and young children already blanched and 
emaciated beyond even the normal Londoner from the 

[ 48 ] 


effects of insanitary cottages, bad water, and starva- 
tion food these figures and types had been a ghastly 
and quickening revelation to Marcella. In London 
the agricultural labourer, of whom she had heard 
much, had been to her as a pawn in the game of dis- 
cussion. Here he was in the flesh ; and she was called 
upon to live with him, and not only to talk about him. 
Under circumstances of peculiar responsibility too. 
For it was very clear that upon the owner of Mellor 
depended, and had always depended, the labourer of 

Well, she had tried to live with them ever since she 
came had gone in and out of their cottages in flat 
horror and amazement at them and their lives and 
their surroundings ; alternately pleased and repelled by 
their cringing ; now enjoying her position among them 
with the natural aristocratic instinct of women, now 
grinding her teeth over her father's and uncle's be- 
haviour and the little good she saw any prospect of 
doing for her new subjects. 

What, their friend and champion, and ultimately 
their redeemer too? Well, and why not? Weak women 
have done greater things in the world. As she stood 
on the chancel step, vowing herself to these great 
things, she was conscious of a dramatic moment 
would not have been sorry, perhaps, if some admiring 
eye could have seen and understood her. 

But there was a saving sincerity at the root of her, 
and her strained mood sank naturally into a girlish 

'We shall see! We shall see!' she said aloud, and 
was startled to hear her words quite plainly in the 
[ 49 ] 


silent church. As she spoke she stooped to separate 
her flowers and see what quantities she had of each. 

But while she did so a sound of distant voices made 
her raise herself again. She walked down the church 
and stood at the open south door, looking and waiting. 
Before her stretched a green field -path leading across 
the park to the village. The vicar and his sister were 
coming along it towards the church, both flower- 
laden, and beside walked a tall man in a brown shoot- 
ing-suit, with his gun in his hand and his dog beside 

The excitement in Marcella's eyes leapt up afresh 
for a moment as she saw the group, and then subsided 
into a luminous and steady glow. She waited quietly 
for them, hardly responding to the affectionate signals 
of the vicar's sister; but inwardly she was not quiet 
at all. For the tall man in the brown shooting-coat 
was Mr. Aldous Raeburn. 


How kind of you!' said the rector's sister, enthusi- 
astically; 'but I thought you would come and help us/ 
And as Marcella took some of her burdens from her, 
Miss Harden kissed Marcella 's cheek with a sort of 
timid eagerness. She had fallen in love with Miss 
Boyce from the beginning, was now just advanced to 
this privilege of kissing, and being entirely convinced 
that her new friend possessed all virtues and all 
knowledge, found it not difficult to hold that she had 
been divinely sent to sustain her brother and herself 
in the disheartening task of civilising Mellor. Mary 
Harden was naturally a short, roundly made girl, 
neither pretty nor plain, with grey-blue eyes, a shy 
manner, and a heart all goodness. Her brother was 
like unto her also short, round, and full-faced, with 
the same attractive eyes. Both were singularly young 
in aspect a boy and girl pair. Both had the worn, 
pinched look which Mrs. Boyce complained of, and 
which, indeed, went oddly with their whole physique. 
It was as though creatures built for a normal life of 
easy give and take with their fellows had fallen upon 
some unfitting and jarring experience. One striking 
difference, indeed, there was between them, for amid 
the brother's timidity and sweetness there lay, clearly 
to be felt and seen, the consciousness of the priest 
-nascent and immature, but already urging and 

t 51 ] 


Only one face of the three showed any other emo- 
tion than quick pleasure at the sight of Marcella 
Boyce. Aldous Raeburn was clearly embarrassed 
thereby. Indeed, as he laid down his gun outside the 
low churchyard wall, while Marcella and the Hardens 
were greeting, that generally self-possessed though 
modest person was conscious of a quite disabling per- 
turbation of mind. Why in the name of all good 
manners and decency had he allowed himself to be 
discovered in shooting-trim, on that particular morn- 
ing, by Mr. Boyce's daughter on her father's land, 
and within a stone's throw of her father's house? Was 
he not perfectly well aware of the curt note which his 
grandfather had that morning dispatched to the new 
owner of Mellor? Had he not ineffectually tried to 
delay execution the night before, thereby puzzling 
.and half -off ending his grandfather? Had not the in- 
cident weighed on him ever since, wounding an ad- 
miration and sympathy which seemed to have stolen 
upon him in the dark, during these few weeks since 
'he had made Miss Boyce's acquaintance, so strong 
and startling did he all in a moment feel them to be? 

And then to intrude upon her thus, out of nothing 
apparently but sheer moth-like incapacity to keep 
away! The church footpath indeed was public pro- 
perty, and Miss Harden 's burdens had cried aloud to 
any passing male to help her. But why in this neigh- 
bourhood at all? why not rather on the other side 
of the county? He could have scourged himself on 
the spot for an unpardonable breach of manners and 

However, Miss Boyce certainly made no sign. She 


received him without any empressement, but also 
without the smallest symptom of offence. They all 
moved into the church together, Mr. Raeburn carry- 
ing a vast bundle of ivy and fern, the rector and his 
sister laden with closely-packed baskets of cut flowers. 
Everything was laid down on the chancel steps be- 
side Marcella's contribution, and then the Hardens 
began to plan out operations. Miss Harden ran over 
on her fingers the contributions which had been sent 
in to the rectory, or were presently coming over to 
the church in a handcart. 'Lord Maxwell has sent the 
most beautiful pots for the chancel/ she said, with a 
grateful look at young Raeburn. 'It will be quite a 
show/ To which the young rector assented warmly. 
It was very good, indeed, of Lord Maxwell to remem- 
ber them always so liberally at times like these, when 
they had so little direct claim upon him. They were 
not his church or his parish, but he never forgot them 
all the same, and Mellor was grateful. The rector had 
all his sister's gentle effusiveness, but a professional 
dignity besides, even in his thanks, which made itself 

Marcella flushed as he was speaking. 

' I went to see what I could get in the way of green- 
house things/ she said in a sudden proud voice. 'But 
we have nothing. There are the houses, but there is 
nothing in them. But you shall have all our out-of- 
door flowers, and I think a good deal might be done 
with autumn leaves and wild things if you will let 
me try.' 

A speech which brought a flush to Mr. Raeburn's 
cheek as he stood in the background, and led Mary 
[ 53 ] 


Harden into an eager asking of Marcella's counsels, 
and an eager praising of her flowers. 

Aldous Raeburn said nothing, but his discomfort 
increased with every moment. Why had his grand- 
father been so officious in this matter of the flowers? 
All very well when Mellor was empty, or in the days 
of a miser and eccentric, without womankind, like 
Robert Boyce. But now the act began to seem to 
him offensive, a fresh affront offered to an unpro- 
tected girl, whose quivering sensitive look as she stood 
talking to the Hardens touched him profoundly. 
Mellor church might almost be regarded as the Boyces' 
private chapel, so bound up was it with the family and 
the house. He realised painfully that he ought to be 
gone yet could not tear himself away. Her pas- 
sionate willingness to spend herself for the place and 
people she had made her own at first sight, checked 
every now and then by a proud and sore reserve it 
was too pretty, too sad. It stung and spurred him 
as he watched her; one moment his foot moved for 
departure, the next he was resolving that somehow or 
other he must make speech with her excuse - 
explain. Ridiculous! How was it possible that he 
should do either! 

He had met her perhaps had tried to meet her - 
tolerably often since their first chance encounter weeks 
ago in the vicarage drawing-room. All through there 
had been on his side the uncomfortable knowledge of 
his grandfather's antipathy to Richard Boyce, and 
of the social steps to which that antipathy would in- 
evitably lead. But Miss Boyce had never shown the 
smallest consciousness, so far, of anything untoward 

[ 54 ] 


or unusual in her position. She had been clearly taken 
up with the interest and pleasure of this new spectacle 
upon which she had entered. The old house, its as- 
sociations, its history, the beautiful country in which 
it lay, the speech and characteristics of rural labour 
as compared with that of the town, he had heard 
her talk of all these things with a freshness, a human 
sympathy, a freedom from conventional phrase, and, 
no doubt, a touch of egotism and extravagance, which 
riveted attention. The egotism and extravagance, 
however, after a first moment of critical discomfort on 
his part, had not in the end repelled him at all. The 
girl's vivid beauty glorified them; made them seem 
to him a mere special fulness of life. So that in his new 
preoccupation with herself, and by contact with her 
frank self-confidence, he had almost forgotten her 
position, and his own indirect relation to it. Then had 
come that, unlucky note from Mellor; his grand- 
father's prompt reply to it; his own ineffective pro- 
test ; and now this tongue-tiedness this clumsy in- 
trusion which she must feel to be an indelicacy an 

Suddenly he heard Miss Harden saying, with peni- 
tent emphasis, ' I am stupid ! I have left the scissors 
and the wire on the table at home; we can't get on 
without them; it is really too bad of me.' 

'I will go for them/ said Marcella, promptly. 'Here 
is the handcart just arrived and some people come 
to help; you can't be spared. I will be back di- 

And, gathering up her black skirt in a slim white 
hand, she sped down the church, and was out of the 
[ 55 ] 


south door before the Hardens had time to protest, or 
Aldous Raeburn understood what she was doing. 

A vexed word from Miss Harden enlightened him, 
and he went after the fugitive, overtaking her just 
where his gun and dog lay, outside the churchyard. 

'Let me go, Miss Boyce,' he said, as he caught her up. 
'My dog and I will run there and back/ 

But Marcella hardly looked at him, or paused. 

'Oh no!' she said, quickly, 'I should like the walk/ 

He hesitated ; then, with a flush which altered his 
usually quiet, self-contained expression, he moved on 
beside her. 

'Allow me to go with you then. You are sure to 
find fresh loads to bring back. If it's like our harvest 
festival, the things keep dropping in all day/ 

Marcella's eyes were still on the ground. 

'I thought you were on your way to shoot, Mr. 

'So I was, but there is no hurry; if I can be useful. 
Both the birds and the keeper can wait/ 

'Where are you going?' 

'To some outlying fields of ours on the Windmill 
Hill. There is a tenant there who wants to see me. 
He is a prosy person with a host of grievances. I took 
my gun as a possible means of escape from him/ 

' Windmill Hill ? I know the name. Oh ! I remember : 
it was there my father has just been telling me - 
that your father and he shot the pair of kestrels, when 
they were boys together/ 

Her tone was quite light, but somehow it had an 
accent, an emphasis, which made Aldous Raeburn 
supremely uncomfortable. In his disquiet, he thought 

[ 56 ] 


of various things to say; but he was not ready, nor 
naturally effusive ; the turn of them did not please him ; 
and he remained silent. 

Meantime Marcella's heart was beating fast. She 
was meditating a coup. 

'Mr. Raeburn!' 


'Will you think me a very extraordinary person if 
I ask you a question? Your father and mine were 
great friends, were n't they, as boys? your family 
and mine were friends, altogether?' 

'I believe so I have always heard so/ said her 
companion, flushing still redder. 

'You knew Uncle Robert Lord Maxwell did?' 

'Yes as much as anybody knew him but ' 

'Oh, I know: he shut himself up and hated his 
neighbours. Still you knew him, and papa and your 
father were boys together. Well then, if you won't 
mind telling me I know it's bold to ask, but I have 
reasons why does Lord Maxwell write to papa in the 
third person, and why has your aunt, Miss Raeburn, 
never found time in all these weeks to call on mamma? ' 

She turned and faced him, her splendid eyes one 
challenge. The glow and fire of the whole gesture - 
the daring of it, and yet the suggestion of womanish 
weakness in the hand which trembled against her 
dress and in the twitching lip if it had been fine 
acting, it could not have been more complete. And, 
in a sense, acting there was in it. Marcella's emo- 
tions were real, but her mind seldom deserted her. 
One half of her was impulsive and passionate; the 
other half looked on and put in finishing touches. 
[ 57 ] 


Acting or no, the surprise of her outburst swept 
the man beside her off his feet. He found himself 
floundering in a sea of excuses not for his relations, 
but for himself. He ought never to have intruded ; it 
was odious, unpardonable; he had no business what- 
ever to put himself in her way! Would she please 
understand that it was an accident? It should not 
happen again. He quite understood that she could 
not regard him with friendliness. And so on. He had 
never so lost his self-possession. 

Meanwhile Marcella's brows contracted. She took 
his excuses as a fresh offence. 

'You mean, I suppose, that I have no right to ask 
such questions!' she cried; 'that I am not behaving 
like a lady as one of your relations would? Well, 
I dare say ! I was not brought up like that. I was not 
brought up at all; I have had to make myself. So 
you must avoid me if you like. Of course you will. 
But I resolved there in the church that I would 
make just one effort, before everything crystallises, to 
break through. If we must live on here hating our 
neighbours and being cut by them, I thought I would 
just ask you why, first. There is no one else to ask. 
Hardly anybody has called, except the Hardens, and 
a few new people that don't matter. And / have 
nothing to be ashamed of/ said the girl, passionately, 
'nor has mamma. Papa, I suppose, did some bad 
things long ago. I have never known I don't know 
now what they were. But I should like to under- 
stand. Is everybody going to cut us because of that?' 

With a great effort Aldous Raeburn pulled himself 
together, certain fine instincts both of race and con- 

[ 58 ] 


duct coming to his help. He met her excited look by 
one which had both dignity and friendliness. 

' I will tell you what I can, Miss Boyce. If you ask 
me, it is right I should. You must forgive me if I 
say anything that hurts you. I will try not I will 
try not!' he repeated earnestly. 'In the first place, 
I know hardly anything in detail. I do not remember 
that I have ever wished to know. But I gather that 
some years ago when I was still a lad something 
in Mr. Boyce 's life some financial matters, I be- 
lieve during the time that he was member of Par- 
liament, made a scandal, and especially among his 
family and old friends. It was the effect upon his old 
father, I think, who, as you know, died soon after- 
wards ' 

Marcella started. 

'I did n't know,' she said quickly. 

Aldous Raeburn's distress grew. 

'I really oughtn't to speak of these things/ he 
said, 'for I don't know them accurately. But I want 
to answer what you said I do indeed. It was that, 
I think, chiefly. Everybody here respected and loved 
your grandfather my grandfather did and there 
was great feeling for him ' 

'I see! I see!' said Marcella, her chest heaving; 
'and against papa.' 

She walked on quickly, hardly seeing where she was 
going, her eyes dim with tears. There was a wretched 
pause. Then Aldous Raeburn broke out - 

'But after all, it is very long ago. And there may 
have been some harsh judgement. My grandfather may 
have been misinformed as to some of the facts. And I' 
[ 59 ] 


He hesitated, struck with the awkwardness of what 
he was going to say. But Marcella understood him. 

'And you will try and make him alter his mind?' 
she said, not ungratefully, but still with a touch of 
sarcasm in her tone. 'No, Mr. Raeburn, I don't think 
that will succeed/ 

They walked on in silence for a little while. At last 
he said, turning upon her a face in which she could 
not but see the true feeling of a just and kindly man 

'I meant that if my grandfather could be led to 
express himself in a way which Mr. Boyce could ac- 
cept, even if there were no great friendship as there 
used to be, there might be something better than this 
- this, which which is so painful. And any- 
way, Miss Boyce, whatever happens, will you let me 
say this once, that there is no word, no feeling in this 
neighbourhood how could there be? towards you 
and your mother, but one of respect and admiration? 
Do believe that, even if you feel that you can never 
be friendly towards me and mine again or forget 
the things I have said!' 

'Respect and admiration!' said Marcella, wonder- 
ing, and still scornful. 'Pity, perhaps. There might 
be that. But anyway mamma goes with papa. She 
always has done. She always will. So shall I, of 
course. But I am sorry horribly sore and sorry ! 
I was so delighted to come here. I have been very 
little at home, and understood hardly anything about 
this worry not how serious it was, nor what it 
meant. Oh ! I am sorry there was so much I wanted 
to do here if anybody could only understand what 
it means to me to come to this place!' 

[ 60 ] 


They had reached the brow of a little rising ground. 
Just below them, beyond a stubble-field in which 
there were a few bent forms of gleaners, lay the small 
scattered village, hardly seen amid its trees, the curls 
of its blue smoke ascending steadily on this calm 
September morning against a great belt of distant 
beechwood which begirt the hamlet and the common 
along which it lay. The stubble-field was a feast of 
shade and tint, of apricots and golds shot with the 
subtlest purples and browns; the flame of the wild- 
cherry leaf and the deeper crimson of the haws made 
every hedge a wonder; the apples gleamed in the 
cottage -gar den ; and a cloudless sun poured down on 
field and hedge, and on the half -hidden medley of 
tiled roofs, sharp gables, and jutting dormers which 
made the village. 

Instinctively both stopped. Marcella locked her 
hands behind her in a gesture familiar to her in mo- 
ments of excitement; the light wind blew back her 
dress in soft, eddying folds ; for the moment, in her 
tall grace, she had the air of some young Victory 
poised upon a height, till you looked at her face,, 
which was, indeed, not exultant at all, but tragic, ex- 
travagantly tragic, as Aldous Raeburn, in his English 
reserve, would perhaps have thought in the case of any 
woman with tamer eyes and a less winning mouth. 

'I don't want to talk about myself/ she began. 
' But you know, Mr. Raeburn you must know 
what a state of things there is here you know what 
a disgrace that village is. Oh! one reads books, but 
I never thought people could actually live like that 
here in the wide country, with room for all. It 
[ 61 ] 


makes me lie awake at night. We are not rich we 
are very poor the house is all out of repair, and 
the estate, as of course you know, is in a wretched 
condition. But when I see these cottages, and the 
water, and the children, I ask what right we have to 
anything we get. I had some friends in London who 
were Socialists, and I followed and agreed with them, 
but here one sees! Yes, indeed ! it is too great a 
risk to let the individual alone when all these lives 
depend upon him. Uncle Robert was an eccentric 
and a miser ; and look at the death-rate in the village 
-look at the children; you can see how it has 
crushed the Hardens already. No, we have no right 
to it! it ought to be taken from us; some day it 
will be taken from us!' 

Aldous Raeburn smiled, and was himself again. 
A woman's speculations were easier to deal with than 
a woman's distress. 

'It is not so hopeless as that, I think,' he said, 
kindly. 'The Mellor cottages are in a bad state, cer- 
tainly. But you have no idea how soon a little energy 
and money and thought sets things to rights.' 

'But we have no money!' cried Marcella. 'And if 
he is miserable here, my father will have no energy 
to do anything. He will not care what happens. He 
will defy everybody, and just spend what he has on 
himself. And it will make me wretched wretched. 
Look at that cottage to the right, Mr. Raeburn. It is 
Jim Kurd's a man who works mainly on the Church 
Farm, when he is in work. But he is deformed, and 
not so strong as others. The farmers too seem to be 
cutting down labour everywhere of course I don't 

[ 62 ] 


understand I am so new to it. Kurd and his family 
had an awful winter, last winter hardly kept body 
and soul together. And now he is out of work already 

-the man at the Church Farm turned him off di- 
rectly after harvest. He sees no prospect of getting 
work by the winter. He spends his days tramping to 
look for it; but nothing turns up. Last winter they 
parted with all they could sell. This winter it must 
be the workhouse! It's heart-breaking. And he has 
a mind ; he can feel! I lend him the Labour paper I 
take in, and get him to talk. He has more education 
than most, and oh! the bitterness at the bottom of 
him. But not against persons individuals. It is 
like a sort of blind patience when you come to that 

- they make excuses even for Uncle Robert, to whom 
they have paid rent all these years for a cottage which 
is a crime yes, a crime! The woman must have 
been such a pretty creature and refined too. She 
is consumptive, of course what else could you ex- 
pect with that cottage and that food? So is the 
eldest boy a little white atomy ! And the other 
children. Talk of London I never saw such sickly 
objects as there are in this village. Twelve shillings a 
week, and work about half the year ! Oh ! they ought 
to hate us! I try to make them/ cried Marcella, 
her eyes gleaming. 'They ought to hate all of us 
landowners, and the whole wicked system. It keeps 
them from the land which they ought to be sharing 
with us; it makes one man master, instead of all 
men brothers. And who is fit to be master? 
Which of us? Everybody is so ready to take the charge 
of other people's lives, and then look at the result!' 
[ 63 ] 


'Well, the result, even in rural England, is not 
always so bad/ said Aldous Raeburn, smiling a little, 
but more coldly. Marcella, glancing at him, under- 
stood in a moment that she had roused a certain fam- 
ily and class pride in him a pride which was not 
going to assert itself, but none the less implied the 
sudden opening of a gulf between herself and him. 
In an instant her quick imagination realised herself 
as the daughter and niece of two discredited members 
of a great class. When she attacked the class, or the 
system, the man beside her any man in similar 
circumstances must naturally think : 'Ah, well, poor 
girl Dick Boyce's daughter what can you ex- 
pect?' Whereas Aldous Raeburn! she thought 
of the dignity of the Maxwell name, of the width of 
the Maxwell possessions, balanced only by the high 
reputation of the family for honourable, just, and 
Christian living, whether as amongst themselves or to- 
wards their neighbours and dependents. A shiver of 
passionate vanity, wrath, and longing passed through 
her as her tall frame stiffened. 

'There are model squires, of course/ she said slowly, 
striving at least for a personal dignity which should 
match his. 'There are plenty of landowners who do 
their duty as they understand it no one denies that. 
But that does not affect the system ; the grandson of 
the best man may be the worst, but his one-man power 
remains the same. No ! the time has come for a wider 
basis. Paternal government and charity were very 
well in their way democratic self-government will 
manage to do without them !' 

She flung him a gay, quivering, defiant look. It de- 
[ 64 ] 


lighted her to pit these wide and threatening general- 
isations against the Maxwell power to show the heir 
of it that she at least father or no father was no 
hereditary subject of his, and bound to no blind ad- 
miration of the Maxwell methods and position. 

Aldous Raeburn took her onslaught very calmly, 
smiling frankly back at her indeed all the time. Miss 
Boyce's opinions could hardly matter to him intellect- 
ually, whatever charm and stimulus he might find in 
her talk. This subject of the duties, rights, and pro- 
spects of his class went, as it happened, very deep with 
him too deep for chance discussion. What she said, 
if he ever stopped to think of it in itself, seemed to 
him a compound of elements derived partly from her 
personal history, partly from the random opinions 
that young people of a generous type pick up from 
newspapers and magazines. She had touched his fam- 
ily pride for an instant ; but only for an instant. What 
he was abidingly conscious of, was of a beautiful wild 
creature struggling with difficulties in which he was 
somehow himself concerned, and out of which, in some 
way or other, he was becoming more and more deter- 
mined absurdly determined to help her. 

'Oh! no doubt the world will do very well without 
us some day/ he said, lightly, in answer to her tirade; 
'no one is indispensable. But are you so sure, Miss 
Boyce, you believe in your own creed? I thought I 
had observed pardon me for saying it on the 
two or three occasions we have met, some degenerate 
signs of individualism? You take pleasure in the old 
place, you say; you were delighted to come and live 
where your ancestors lived before you ; you are full of 
[ 65 ] 


desires to pull these poor people out of the mire in 
your own way. No ! I don't feel that you are thorough- 

Marcella paused a frowning moment, then broke 
suddenly into a delightful laugh a laugh of humor- 
ous confession, which changed her whole look and 

'Is that all you have noticed? If you wish to know, 
Mr. Raeburn, I love the labourers for touching their 
hats to me. I love the school-children for bobbing to 
me. I love my very self ridiculous as you may 
think it for being Miss Boyce of Mellor ! ' 

'Don't say things like that, please!' he interrupted; 
'I think I have not deserved them.' 

His tone made her repent her gibe. 'No, indeed, you 
have been most kind to me,' she cried. 'I don't know 
how it is. I am bitter and personal in a moment - 
when I don't mean to be. Yes! you are quite right. 
I am proud of it all. If nobody comes to see us, and 
we are left all alone out in the cold, I shall still have 
room enough to be proud in proud of the old house 
and our few bits of pictures, and the family papers, 
and the beeches ! How absurd it would seem to other 
people, who have so much more ! But I have had so 
little so little! 9 Her voice had a hungry lingering 
note. 'And as for the people, yes, I am proud too that 
they like me, and that already I can influence them. 
Oh, I will do my best for them, my very best! But it 
will be hard, very hard, if there is no one to help me!' 

She heaved a long sigh. In spite of the words, what 
she had said did not seem to be an appeal for his pity. 
Rather there was in it a sweet self -dedicating note as 

[ 66 ] 


of one going sadly alone to a painful task, a note which 
once more left Aldous Raeburn's self-restraint totter- 
ing. She was walking gently beside him, her pretty 
dress trailing lightly over the dry stubble, her hand in 
its white ruffles hanging so close beside him after 
all her prophetess airs a pensive womanly thing, that 
must surely hear how his strong man's heart was be- 
ginning to beat ! 

He bent over to her. 

'Don't talk of there being no one to help! There 
may be many ways out of present difficulties. Mean- 
while, however things go, could you be large-minded 
enough to count one person here your friend?' 

She looked up at him. Tall as she was, he was 
taller she liked that; she liked too the quiet cautious 
strength of his English expression and bearing. She 
did not think him handsome, and she was conscious of 
no thrill. But inwardly her quick dramatising imag- 
ination was already constructing her own future and 
his. The ambition to rule leapt in her, and the delight 
in conquest. It was with a delicious sense of her own 
power, and of the general fulness of her new life, that 
she said, ' I am large-minded enough ! You have been 
very kind, and I have been very wild and indiscreet. 
But I don't regret : I am sure, if you can help me, you 

There was a little pause. They were standing at the 
last gate before the miry village road began, and al- 
most in sight of the little vicarage. Aldous Raeburn, 
with his hand on the gate, suddenly gathered a spray 
of travellers'-joy out of the hedge beside him. 

'That was a promise, I think, and I keep the pledge 
[ 67 ] 


of it,' he said, and with a smile put the cluster of white 
seed-tufts and green leaves into one of the pockets of 
his shooting-jacket. 

'Oh, don't tie me down!' said Marcella, laughing, 
but flushing also. 'And don't you think, Mr. Raeburn, 
that you might open that gate? At least, we can't get 
the scissors and the wire unless you do.' 


1 HE autumn evening was far advanced when Aldous 
Raeburn, after his day's shooting, passed again by the 
gates of Mellor Park on his road home. He glanced 
up the ill-kept drive, with its fine overhanging limes, 
caught a glimpse, to the left, of the little church, and 
to the right, of the long eastern front of the house; 
lingered a moment to watch the sunset light streaming 
through the level branches of two distant cedars, 
standing black and sharp against the fiery west, and 
then walked briskly forwards in the mood of a man 
going as fast as may be to an appointment he both 
desires and dreads. 

He had given his gun to the keeper, who had already 
sped far ahead of him, in the shooting-cart which his 
master had declined. His dog, a black retriever, was 
at his heels, and both dog and man were somewhat 
weary and stiff with exercise. But for the privilege 
of solitude, Aldous Raeburn would at that moment 
have faced a good deal more than the two miles of 
extra walking which now lay between him and Max- 
well Court. 

About him, as he trudged on, lay a beautiful world 
of English woodland. After he had passed through the 
hamlet of Mellor, with its three-cornered piece of open 
common, and its patches of arable representing 
the original forest-clearing made centuries ago by the 
primitive fathers of the village in this corner of the 
[ 69 ] 


Chiltern uplands the beech woods closed thickly 
round him. Beech woods of all kinds from forest 
slopes, where majestic trees, grey and soaring pillars 
of the woodland roof, stood in stately isolation on the 
dead-leaf carpet woven by the years about their carved 
and polished bases, to the close plantations of young 
trees, where the saplings crowded on each other, and 
here and there amid the airless tangle of leaf and 
branch some long pheasant-drive, cut straight through 
the green heart of the wood, refreshed the seeking eye 
with its arched and far-receding path. Two or three 
times on his walk Aldous heard from far within the 
trees the sounds of hatchet and turner's wheel, which 
told him he was passing one of the wood-cutter's huts 
that in the hilly parts of this district supply the first 
simple steps of the chairmaking industry, carried on 
in the little factory towns of the more populous valleys. 
And two or three times also he passed a string of the 
great timber-carts which haunt the Chiltern lanes; the 
patient team of brown horses straining at the weight 
behind them, the vast prostrate trunks rattling in their 
chains, and the smoke from the carters' pipes rising 
slowly into the damp sunset air. But for the most part 
the road along which he walked was utterly forsaken 
of humankind. Nor were there any signs of habita- 
tion no cottages, no farms. He was scarcely more 
than thirty miles from London; yet in this solemn 
evening glow it would have been hardly possible to 
find a remoter, lonelier nature than that through which 
he was passing. 

And presently the solitude took a grander note. He 
was nearing the edge of the high upland along which 

[ 70 ] 


he had been walking. In front of him the long road 
with its gleaming pools bent sharply to the left, show- 
ing pale and distinct against a darkening heaven and 
the wide grey fields which had now, on one side of his 
path replaced the serried growth of young plantations. 
Night was fast advancing from south and east over 
the upland. But straight in front of him and on his 
right, the forest trees, still flooded with sunset, fell in 
sharp steeps towards the plain. Through their straight 
stems glowed the blues and purples of that lower 
world; and when the slopes broke and opened here 
and there, above the rounded masses of their red and 
golden leaf the level distances of the plain could be 
seen stretching away, illimitable in the evening dusk, 
to a west of glory, just vacant of the sun. The golden 
ball had sunk into the mists awaiting it, but the 
splendour of its last rays was still on all the western 
front of the hills, bathing the beech woods as they 
rose and fell with the large undulations of the ground. 

Insensibly Raeburn, filled as he was with a new and 
surging emotion, drew the solemnity of the forest glades 
and of the rolling distances into his heart. When he 
reached the point where the road diverged to the left, 
he mounted a little grassy ridge, whence he com- 
manded the whole sweep of the hill rampart from 
north to west, and the whole expanse of the low 
country beneath, and there stood gazing for some 
minutes, lost in many thoughts, while the night fell. 

He looked over the central plain of England the 
plain which stretches westward to the Thames and the 
Berkshire hills, and northward through the Bucking- 
hamshire and Bedfordshire lowlands to the basin of 


the Trent. An historic plain symbolic, all of it, to 
an English eye. There in the western distance, amid 
the light-filled mists, lay Oxford ; in front of him was 
the site of Chalgrove Field, where Hampden got his 
clumsy death-wound, and Thame, where he died ; and 
far away, to his right, where the hills swept to the 
north, he could just discern, gleaming against the face 
of the down, the vast scoured cross, whereby a Saxon 
king had blazoned his victory over his Danish foes to 
all the plain beneath. 

Aldous Raeburn was a man to feel these things. 
He had seldom stood on this high point, in such an 
evening calm, without the expansion in him of all 
that was most manly, most English, most strenuous. 
If it had not been so, indeed, he must have been singu- 
larly dull of soul. For the great view had an interest 
for him personally it could hardly have possessed to 
the same degree for any other man. On his left hand 
Maxwell Court rose among its woods on the brow of 
the hill a splendid pile which some day would be 
his. Behind him, through all the upland he had just 
traversed, beneath the point where he stood, along 
the sides of the hills, and far into the plain, stretched 
the land which also would be his which, indeed, 
practically was already his for his grandfather was 
an old man with a boundless trust in the heir on whom 
his affections and hopes were centred. The dim 
churches scattered over the immediate plain below; 
the villages clustered round them, where dwelt the 
toilers in these endless fields; the farms amid their 
trees; the cottages showing here and there on the 
fringes of the wood all the equipment and organ- 

[ 72 ] 


isation of popular life over an appreciable part of the 
English midland at his feet, depended to an extent 
hardly to be exaggerated, under the conditions of the 
England of to-day, upon him upon his one man's 
brain and conscience, the degree of his mental and 
moral capacity. 

In his first youth, of course, the thought had often 
roused a boy's tremulous elation and sense of romance. 
Since his Cambridge days, and of late years, any more 
acute or dramatic perception than usual of his lot in 
life had been wont to bring with it rather a con- 
sciousness of weight than of inspiration. Sensitive, 
fastidious, reflective, he was disturbed by remorses 
and scruples which had never plagued his forefathers. 
During his college days, the special circumstances of 
a great friendship had drawn him into the full tide 
of a social speculation which, as it happened, was 
destined to go deeper with him than with most men. 
The responsibilities of the rich, the disadvantages of 
the poor, the relation of the State to the individual 
of the old Radical dogma of free contract to the 
thwarting facts of social inequality ; the Tory ideal of 
paternal government by the few as compared with the 
liberal ideal of self-government by the many : these 
commonplaces of economical and political discussion 
had very early become living and often sore realities in 
Aldous Raeburn's mind, because of the long conflict 
in him, dating from his Cambridge life, between the in- 
fluences of birth and early education and the influences 
of an admiring and profound affection which had 
opened to him the gates of a new moral world. 

Towards the close of his first year at Trinity, a 
[ 73 ] 


young man joined the college who rapidly became, 
in spite of various practical disadvantages, a leader 
among the best and keenest of his fellows. He was 
poor and held a small scholarship; but it was soon plain 
that his health was not equal to the Tripos routine, 
and that the prizes of the place, brilliant as was his 
intellectual endowment, were not for him. After an 
inward struggle, of which none perhaps but Aldous 
Raeburn had any exact knowledge, he laid aside his 
first ambitions and turned himself to another career. 
A couple of hours' serious brainwork in the day was 
all that was ever possible to him henceforward. He 
spent it, as well as the thoughts and conversation of 
his less strenuous moments, on the study of history 
and sociology, with a view to joining the staff of lec- 
turers for the manufacturing and country towns which 
the two great universities, touched by new and pop- 
ular sympathies, were then beginning to organise. He 
came of a stock which promised well for such a pio- 
neer's task. His father had been an able factory in- 
spector, well known for his share in the inauguration 
and revision of certain important factory reforms ; the 
son inherited a passionate humanity of soul ; and added 
to it a magnetic and personal charm which soon made 
him a remarkable power, not only in his own college, 
but among the finer spirits of the university generally. 
He had the gift which enables a man, sitting perhaps 
after dinner in a mixed society of his college contem- 
poraries, to lead the way imperceptibly from the casual 
subjects of the hour the river, the dons, the schools 
to arguments 'of great pith and moment/ dis- 
cussions that search the moral and intellectual powers 

[ 74 ] 


of the men concerned to the utmost, without exciting 
distrust or any but an argumentative opposition. 
Edward Hallin could do this without a pose, without 
a false note, nay, rather by the natural force of a boyish 
intensity and simplicity. To many a Trinity man in 
after life the memory of his slight figure and fair head, 
of the eager slightly parted mouth, of the eyes glowing 
with some inward vision, and of the gesture with which 
he would spring up at some critical point to deliver 
himself, standing amid his seated and often dissenti- 
ent auditors, came back vivid and ineffaceable as only 
youth can make the image of its prophets. 

Upon Aldous Raeburn, Edward Hallin produced 
from the first a deep impression. The interests to 
which Hallin 's mind soon became exclusively devoted 
- such as the systematic study of English poverty, 
or of the relation of religion to social life, reforms of 
the land and of the Church overflowed upon Rae- 
burn with a kindling and disturbing force. Edward 
Hallin was his gadfly ; and he had no resource, because 
he loved his tormentor. 

Fundamentally, the two men were widely different. 
Raeburn was a true son of his fathers, possessed by 
natural inheritance of the finer instincts of aristocratic 
rule, including a deep contempt for mob-reason and 
all the vulgarities of popular rhetoric; steeped, too, 
in a number of subtle prejudices, and in a silent 
but intense pride of family of the nobler sort. He 
followed with disquiet and distrust the quick motions 
and conclusions of Hallin's intellect. Temperament 
and the Cambridge discipline made him a fastidious 
thinker and a fine scholar; his mind worked slowly, 
[ 75 ] 


yet with a delicate precision; and his generally cold 
manner was the natural protection of feelings which 
had never yet, except in the case of his friendship 
with Edward Hallin, led him to much personal happi- 

Hallin left Cambridge after a pass degree to become 
lecturer on industrial and economical questions in the 
northern English towns. Raeburn stayed on a year 
longer, found himself third classic and the winner of 
a Greek verse prize, and then, sacrificing the idea of 
a fellowship, returned to Maxwell Court to be his 
grandfather's companion and helper in the work of 
the estate, his family proposing that, after a few years' 
practical experience of the life and occupations of a 
country gentleman, he should enter Parliament and 
make a career in politics. Since then five or six years 
had passed, during which he had learned to know 
the estate thoroughly, and to take his normal share 
in the business and pleasures of the neighbourhood. 
For the last two years he had been his grandfather's 
sole agent, a poor-law guardian and magistrate besides 
and a member of most of the various committees for 
social and educational purposes in the county. He 
was a sufficiently keen sportsman to save appearances 
with his class; enjoyed a walk after the partridges, 
indeed, with a friend or two, as much as most men; 
and played the host at the two or three great battues 
of the year with a propriety which his grandfather, 
however, no longer mistook for enthusiasm. There was 
nothing much to distinguish him from any other able 
man of his rank. His neighbours felt him to be a per- 
sonality, but thought him reserved and difficult; he 

[ 76 ] 


was respected, but he was not popular like his grand- 
father; people speculated as to how he would get on 
in Parliament, or whom he was to marry ; but, except 
to the dwellers in Maxwell Court itself, or of late to the 
farmers and labourers on the estate, it would not have 
mattered much to anybody if he had not been there. 
Nobody ever connected any romantic thought with 
him. There was something in his strong build, pale but 
healthy aquiline face, his inconspicuous brown eyes 
and hair, which seemed from the beginning to mark 
him out as the ordinary earthy dweller in an earthy 

Nevertheless, these years had been to Aldous Rae- 
burn years marked by an expansion and deepening 
of the whole man, such as few are capable of. Edward 
Hallin's visits to the Court, the walking-tours which 
brought the two friends together almost every year 
in Switzerland or the Highlands, the course of a full 
and intimate correspondence, and the various calls 
made for public purposes by the enthusiast and pio- 
neer upon the pocket and social power of the rich 
man these things and influences, together, of course,, 
with the pressure of an environing world, ever more 
real, and, on the whole, ever more oppressive, as it 
was better understood, had confronted Aldous Rae- 
burn before now with a good many teasing problems 
of conduct and experience. His tastes, his sympathies, 
his affinities were all with the old order; but the old 
faiths economical, social, religious were ferment- 
ing within him in different stages of disintegration and 
reconstruction ; and his reserved habit and often soli- 
tary life tended to scrupulosity and over-refinement. 
[ 77 ] 


His future career as a landowner and politician was 
by no means clear to him. One thing only was clear 
to him that to dogmatise about any subject under 
heaven at the present day, more than the immediate 
practical occasion absolutely demanded, was the act 
of an idiot. 

So that Aldous Raeburn's moments of reflexion 
had been constantly mixed with struggle of different 
kinds. And the particular point of view where he 
stood on this September evening had been often as- 
sociated in his memory with flashes of self-realisation 
which were, on the whole, more of a torment to him 
than a joy. If he had not been Aldous Raeburn, or 
any other person, tied to a particular individuality, 
with a particular place and label in the world, the 
task of the analytic mind, in face of the spectacle of 
what is, would have been a more possible one ! so 
it had 'of ten seemed to him. 

But to-night all this cumbering consciousness, all 
these self-made doubts and worries, had for the mo- 
ment dropped clean away! A transfigured man it 
was that lingered at the old spot a man once more 
young, divining with enchantment the approach of 
passion, feeling at last through all his being the ecstasy 
of a self-surrender, long missed, long hungered for. 

Six weeks was it since he had first seen her this 
tall, straight Marcella Boyce? He shut his eyes im- 
patiently against the disturbing golds and purples 
of the sunset, and tried to see her again as she walked 
beside him across the church fields, in that thin black 
dress, with the shadow of the hat across her brow and 
eyes the small white teeth flashing as she talked 

[ 78 ] 


and smiled, the hand so ready with its gesture, so 
restless, so alive ! What a presence how absorbing, 
troubling, preoccupying! No one in her company 
could forget her nay, could fail to observe her. 
What ease and daring, and yet no hardness with it - 
rather deep on deep of womanly weakness, softness, 
passion, beneath it all! 

How straight she had flung her questions at him ! - 
her most awkward, embarrassing questions. What 
other woman would have dared such candour un- 
less perhaps as a stroke of fine art he had known 
women indeed who could have done it so. But where 
could be the art, the policy, he asked himself indig- 
nantly, in the sudden outburst of a young girl plead- 
ing with her companion's sense of truth and good 
feeling in behalf of those nearest to her? 

As to her dilemma itself, in his excitement he 
thought of it with nothing but the purest pleasure! 
She had let him see that she did not expect him to be 
able to do much for her, though she was ready to be- 
lieve him her friend. Ah well he drew a long breath. 
For once, Raeburn, strange compound that he was 
of the man of rank and the philosopher, remembered 
his own social power and position with an exultant 
satisfaction. No doubt Dick Boyce had misbehaved 
himself badly the strength of Lord Maxwell's feeling 
was sufficient proof thereof. No doubt the ' county/ 
as Raeburn himself knew, in some detail, were dis- 
posed to leave Mellor Park severely alone. What of 
that? Was it for nothing that the Maxwells had been 
for generations at the head of the 'county/ i.e. of that 
circle of neighbouring families connected by the ties 
[ 79 ] 


of ancestral friendship, or of intermarriage, on whom 
in this purely agricultural and rural district the social 
pleasure and comfort of Miss Boyce and her mother 
must depend? 

He, like Marcella, did not believe that Richard 
Boyce's offences were of the quite unpardonable order ; 
although, owing to a certain absent and preoccupied 
temper, he had never yet taken the trouble to inquire 
into them in detail. As to any real restoration of 
cordiality between the owner of Mellor and his father's 
old friends and connexions, that of course was not to 
be looked for ; but there should be decent social re- 
cognition, and in the case of Mrs. Boyce and her 
daughter there should be homage and warm wel- 
come, simply because she wished it, and it was absurd 
she should not have it! Raeburn, whose mind was 
ordinarily destitute of the most elementary capacity 
for social intrigue, began to plot in detail how it 
should be done. He relied first upon winning his 
grandfather his popular, distinguished grandfather, 
whose lightest word had weight in Brookshire. And 
then, he himself had two or three women friends in 
the county not more, for women had not occu- 
pied much place in his thoughts till now. But they 
were good friends, and, from the social point of view, 
important. He would set them to work at once. These 
things should be chiefly managed by women. 

But no patronage ! She would never bear that, the 
glancing, proud creature. She must guess, indeed, let 
him tread as delicately as he might, that he and others 
were at work for her. But oh ! she should be softly 
handled ; as far as he could achieve it, she should, in 

[ 80 ] 


a very little while, live and breathe compassed with 
warm airs of good will and consideration. 

He felt himself happy, amazingly happy, that at the 
very beginning of his love, it should thus be open to 
him, in these trivial, foolish ways, to please and 
befriend her. Her social dilemma and discomfort one 
moment, indeed, made him sore for her ; the next, they 
were a kind of joy, since it was they gave him this 
opportunity to put out a strong right arm. 

Everything about her at this moment was divine 
and lovely to him ; all the qualities of her rich, uneven 
youth which she had shown in their short intercourse 
- her rashness, her impulsiveness, her generosity. Let 
her but trust herself to him, and she should try her 
social experiments as she pleased she should plan 
Utopias, and he would be her hodman to build them. 
The man perplexed with too much thinking remem- 
bered the girl's innocent, ignorant readiness to stamp 
the world's stuff anew after the forms of her own pity- 
ing thought, with a positive thirst of sympathy. The 
deep poetry and ideality at the root of him, under all 
the weight of intellectual and critical debate, leapt 
towards her. He thought of the rapid talk she had 
poured out upon him, after their compact of friendship, 
in their walk back to the church, of her enthusiasm for 
her Socialist friends and their ideals, with a mo- 
mentary madness of self-suppression and tender humil- 
ity. In reality, a man like Aldous Raeburn is born to 
be the judge and touchstone of natures like Marcella 
Boyce. But the illusion of passion may deal as dis- 
turbingly with moral rank as with social. 

It was his first love. Years before, in the vacation 
[ 81 ] 


before he went to college, his boyish mind had been 
crossed by a fancy for a pretty cousin a little older 
than himself, who had been very kind indeed to 
Lord Maxwell's heir. But then came Cambridge, the 
flow of a new mental life, his friendship for Edward 
Hallin, and the beginnings of a moral storm and stress. 
When he and the cousin next met, he was quite cold 
to her. She seemed to him a pretty piece of millinery, 
endowed with a trick of parrot phrases. She, on her 
part, thought him detestable; she married shortly 
afterwards, and often spoke to her husband in private 
of her 'escape' from that queer fellow Aldous Raeburn. 

Since then he had known plenty of pretty and 
charming women, both in London and in the country, 
and had made friends with some of them in his quiet, 
serious way. But none of them had roused in him 
even a passing thrill of passion. He had despised him- 
self for it; had told himself again and again that he 
was but half a man 

Ah! he had done himself injustice he had done 
himself injustice ! 

His heart was light as air. When at last the sound of 
a clock striking in the plain roused him with a start, 
and he sprang up from the heap of stones where he 
had been sitting in the dusk, he bent down a moment 
to give a gay caress to his dog, and then trudged off 
briskly home, whistling under the emerging stars. 


BY the time, however, that Aldous Raeburn came 
within sight of the windows of Maxwell Court his first 
exaltation had sobered down. The lover had fallen, 
for the time, into the background, and the capable, 
serious man of thirty, with a considerable experience 
of the world behind him, was perfectly conscious that 
there were many difficulties in his path. He could not 
induce his grandfather to move in the matter of 
Richard Boyce without a statement of his own feelings 
and aims. Nor would he have avoided frankness if he 
could. On every ground it was his grandfather's due. 
The Raeburns were reserved towards the rest of the 
world, but amongst themselves there had always been 
a fine tradition of mutual trust; and Lord Maxwell 
amply deserved that at this particular moment his 
grandson should maintain it. 

But Raeburn could not and did not flatter himself 
that his grandfather would, to begin with, receive his 
news even with toleration. The grim satisfaction 
with which that note about the shooting had been 
dispatched, was very clear in the grandson's memory. 
At the same time it said much for the history of those 
long years during which the old man and his heir had 
been left to console each other for the terrible bereave- 
ments which had thrown them together, that Aldous 
Raeburn never for an instant feared the kind of 
violent outburst and opposition that other men in 
[ 83 ] 


similar circumstances might have looked forward to. 
The just living of a lifetime makes a man incapable of 
any mere selfish handling of another's interests a 
fact on which the bystander may reckon. 

It was quite dark by the time he entered the large 
open-roofed hall of the Court. 

'Is his lordship in?' he asked of a passing footman. 

'Yes, sir in the library. He has been asking for 
you, sir/ 

Aldous turned to the right along the fine corridor 
lighted with Tudor windows to an inner quadrangle, 
and filled with Grseco-Roman statuary and sarcophagi, 
which made one of the principal features of the Court. 
The great house was warm and scented, and the 
various open doors which he passed on his way to the 
library disclosed large, fire-lit rooms, with panelling, 
tapestry, pictures, books everywhere. The colour of 
the whole was dim and rich; antiquity, refinement 
reigned, together with an exquisite quiet and order. 
No one was to be seen, and not a voice was to be 
heard ; but there was no impression of solitude. These 
warm, darkly-glowing rooms seemed to be waiting for 
the return of guests just gone out of them ; not one of 
them but had an air of cheerful company. For once, 
as he walked through it, Aldous Raeburn spared the 
old house an affectionate possessive thought. Its size 
and wealth, with all that both implied, had often 
weighed upon him. To-night his breath quickened as 
he passed the range of family portraits leading to the 
library door. There was a vacant space here and there 
'room for your missus, too, my boy, when you get 
her!' as his grandfather had once put it. 

[ 84 ] 


'Why, you've had a long day, Aldous, all by your- 
self/ said Lord Maxwell, turning sharply round at the 
sound of the opening door. ' What 's kept you so late? ' 

His spectacles fell forward as he spoke, and the old 
man shut them in his hand, peering at his grandson 
through the shadows of the room. He was sitting by 
a huge fire, an Edinburgh Review open on his knee. 
Lamp and fire-light showed a finely-carried head, with 
a high wave of snowy hair thrown back, a long face 
delicately sharp in the lines, and an attitude instinct 
with the alertness of an unimpaired bodily vigour. 

'The birds were scarce, and we followed them a 
good way/ said Aldous, as he came up to the fire. 
'Rickman kept me on the farm, too, a good while, 
with interminable screeds about the things he wants 
done for him/ 

'Oh, there is no end to Rickman/ said Lord Max- 
well, good-humouredly. 'He pays his rent for the 
amusement of getting it back again. Landowning will 
soon be the most disinterested form of philanthropy 
known to mankind. But I have some news for you ! 
Here is a letter from Barton by the second post- 
he named an old friend of his own, and a Cabinet 
Minister of the day. 'Look at it. You will see he says 
they can't possibly carry on beyond January. Half 

their men are becoming unmanageable, and S 's 

bill, to which they are committed, will certainly dish 
them. Parliament will meet in January, and he thinks 
an amendment to the Address will finish it. All this 
confidential, of course ; but he saw no harm in letting 
me know. So now, my boy, you will have your work 
cut out for you this winter! Two or three evenings 
[ 85 ] 


a week you'll not get off with less. Nobody's plum 
drops into his mouth nowadays. Barton tells me, too, 
that he hears young Wharton will certainly stand for 
the Durnford division, and will be down upon us 
directly. He will make himself as disagreeable to us 
and the Levens as he can that we may be sure of. 
We may be thankful for one small mercy, that his 
mother has departed this life! otherwise you and I 
would have known fur ens quid femina posset!' 

The old man looked up at his grandson with a hu- 
morous eye. Aldous was standing absently before the 
fire, and did not reply immediately. 

' Come, come, Aldous ! ' said Lord Maxwell, with a 
touch of impatience, 'don't overdo the philosopher. 
Though I am getting old, the next Government can't 
deny me a finger in the pie. You and I between us 
will be able to pull through two or three of the things 
we care about in the next House, with ordinary luck. 
It is my firm belief that the next election will give 
our side the best chance we have had for half a genera- 
tion. Throw up your cap, sir! The world may be 
made of green cheese, but we have got to live in it ! ' 

Aldous smiled suddenly uncontrollably with 
a look which left his grandfather staring. He had 
been appealing to the man of maturity standing on the 
threshold of a possibly considerable career, and, as he 
did so, it was as though he saw the boy of eighteen 
reappear ! 

f je ne demande pas mieux!' said Aldous, with a 
quick lift of the voice above its ordinary key. 'The 
fact is, grandfather, I have come home with something 
in my mind very different from politics and you 

[86 ] 


must give me time to change the focus. I did not 
come home as straight as I might for I wanted to 
be sure of myself before I spoke to you. During the 
last few weeks ' 

'Go on!' cried Lord Maxwell. 

But Aldous did not find it easy to go on. It suddenly 
struck him that it was after all absurd that he should 
be confiding in any one at such a stage, and his tongue 

But he had gone too far for retreat. Lord Maxwell 
sprang up and seized him by the arms. 

'You are in love, sir! Out with it!' 

'I have seen the only woman in the world I have 
ever wished to marry/ said Aldous, flushing, but with 
deliberation. 'Whether she will ever have me, I have 
no idea. But I can conceive no greater happiness than 
to win her. And as I want you, grandfather, to do 
something for her and for me, it seemed to me I had 
no right to keep my feelings to myself. Besides, I am 
not accustomed to to ' His voice wavered a little. 
' You have treated me as more than a son ! ' 

Lord Maxwell pressed his arm affectionately. 

'My dear boy! But don't keep me on tenterhooks 
like this tell me the name ! the name ! ' 

And two or three long meditated possibilities flashed 
through the old man's mind. 

Aldous replied with a certain slow stiffness - 

'Marcella Boyce! Richard Boyce's daughter. I 
saw her first six weeks ago/ 

'God bless my soul!' exclaimed Lord Maxwell, fall- 
ing back a step or two, and staring at his companion. 
Aldous watched him with anxiety. 
[ 87 ] 


'You know that fellow's history, Aldous?' 

'Richard Boyce? Not in detail. If you will tell me 
now all you know, it will be a help. Of course, I see 
that you and the neighbourhood mean to cut him, - 
and for the sake of of Miss Boyce and her mother, 
I should be glad to find a way out/ 

'Good Heavens!' said Lord Maxwell, beginning to 
pace the room, hands pressed behind him, head bent. 
'Good Heavens! what a business! what an extraor- 
dinary business!' 

He stopped short in front of Aldous. 'Where have 
you been meeting her this young lady?' 

'At the Hardens' sometimes in Mellor village. 
She goes about among the cottages a great deal.' 

'You have not proposed to her?' 

'I was not certain of myself till to-day. Besides it 
would have been presumption so far. She has shown 
me nothing but the merest friendliness.' 

'What, you can suppose she would refuse you!' 
cried Lord Maxwell, and could not for the life 
of him keep the sarcastic intonation out of his 

Aldous 's look showed distress. 'You have not seen 
her, grandfather/ he said quietly. 

Lord Maxwell began to pace again, trying to restrain 
the painful emotion that filled him. Of course, Aldous 
had been entrapped ; the girl had played upon his pity, 
his chivalry for obvious reasons. 

Aldous tried to soothe him, to explain, but Lord 
Maxwell hardly listened. At last he threw himself 
into his chair again with a long breath. 

' Give me time, Aldous give me time. The thought 
[ 88 ] 


of marrying my heir to that man's daughter knocks 
me over a little.' 

There was silence again. Then Lord Maxwell looked 
at his watch with old-fashioned precision. 

'There is half an hour before dinner. Sit down, and 
let us talk this thing out.' 

The conversation thus started, however, was only 
begun by dinner-time; was resumed after Miss Rae- 
burn the small, shrewd, bright-eyed person who 
governed Lord Maxwell's household had with- 
drawn; and was continued in the library some time 
beyond his lordship's usual retiring-hour. It was for 
the most part a monologue on the part of the grand- 
father, broken by occasional words from his com- 
panion ; and for some time Marcella Boyce herself 
the woman whom Aldous desired to marry was 
hardly mentioned in it. Oppressed and tormented by 
a surprise which struck, or seemed to strike, at some 
of his most cherished ideals and just resentments, 
Lord Maxwell was bent upon letting his grandson 
know, in all their fulness, the reasons why no daughter 
of Richard Boyce could ever be, in the true sense, fit 
wife for a Raeburn. 

Aldous was, of course, perfectly familiar with the 
creed implied in it all. A Maxwell should give him- 
self no airs whatever, should indeed feel no pride 
whatever, towards 'men of good will,' whether peasant, 
professional, or noble. Such airs or such feeling would 
be both vulgar and unchristian. But when it came to 
marriage, then it behoved him to see that 'the family* 
that carefully grafted and selected stock to which 
[ 89 ] 


he owed so much should suffer no loss or deteriora- 
tion through him. Marriage with the fit woman meant 
for a Raeburn the preservation of a pure blood, of a 
dignified and honourable family habit, and moreover 
the securing to his children such an atmosphere of 
self-respect within, and of consideration from with- 
out, as he had himself grown up in. And a woman 
could not be fit, in this sense, who came either of an 
insignificant stock, untrained to large uses and oppor- 
tunities, or of a stock which had degenerated, and lost 
its right of equal mating with the vigorous owners of 
unblemished names. Money was of course important 
and not to be despised, but the present Lord Maxwell, 
at any rate, large-minded and conscious of wealth he 
could never spend, laid comparatively little stress 
upon it ; whereas, in his old age, the other instinct had 
but grown the stronger with him, as the world waxed 
more democratic, and the influence of the great 
families waned. 

Nor could Aldous pretend to be insensible to such 
feelings and beliefs. Supposing the daughter could be 
won, there was no doubt whatever that Richard Boyce 
would be a cross and burden to a Raeburn son-in-law. 
But then ! After all ! Love for once made philosophy 
easy made class tradition sit light. Impatience 
grew; a readiness to believe Richard Boyce as black 
as Erebus and be done with it, so that one might 
get to the point, the real point. 

As to the story, it came to this. In his youth, Rich- 
ard Boyce had been the younger and favourite son 
of his father. He possessed some ability, some good 
looks, some manners, all of which were wanting in his 

[ 90 ] 


loutish elder brother. Sacrifices were accordingly made 
for him. He was sent to the Bar. When he stood for 
Parliament his election expenses were jubilantly paid, 
and his father afterwards maintained him with as 
generous a hand as the estate could possibly bear, 
often in the teeth of the grudging resentment of 
Robert his firstborn. Richard showed signs of making 
a rapid success, at any rate on the political platform. 
He spoke with facility, and grappled with the drudgery 
of committees during his first two years at Westmin- 
ster in a way to win him the favourable attention of 
the Tory whips. He had a gift for modern languages, 
and spoke chiefly on foreign affairs, so that when an 
important Eastern Commission had to be appointed, 
in connexion with some troubles in the Balkan States, 
his merits and his father's exertions with certain old 
family friends sufficed to place him upon it. 

The Commission was headed by a remarkable man, 
and was able to do valuable work at a moment of great 
public interest, under the eyes of Europe. Its members 
came back covered with distinction, and were much 
feted through the London season. Old Mr. Boyce 
came up from Mellor to see Dick's success for himself, 
and his rubicund, country-gentleman's face and white 
head might have been observed at many a London 
party beside the small Italianate physique of his 

And love, as he is wont, came in the wake of for- 
tune. A certain fresh West-country girl, Miss Evelyn 
Merritt, who had shown her stately beauty at one of 
the earliest Drawing- Rooms of the season, fell across 
Mr. Richard Boyce at this moment when he was most 
[ 91 ] 


at ease with the world, and the world was giving him 
every opportunity. She was very young, as unspoilt 
as the daffodils of her Somersetshire valleys, and her 
character a character of much complexity and sto- 
ical strength was little more known to herself than 
it was to others. She saw Dick Boyce through a mist 
of romance; forgot herself absolutely in idealising him, 
and could have thanked him on her knees when he 
asked her to marry him. 

Five years of Parliament and marriage followed, 
and then a crash. It was a common and sordid 
story, made tragic by the quality of the wife, and the 
disappointment of the father, if not by the ruined 
possibilities of Dick Boyce himself. First, the desire 
to maintain a 'position/ to make play in society with 
a pretty wife, and, in the City, with a marketable 
reputation; then company-promoting of a more and 
more doubtful kind ; and, finally, a swindle more ener- 
getic and less skilful than the rest, which, bomb-like, 
went to pieces in the face of the public, filling the air 
with noise, lamentations, and unsavoury odours. Nor 
was this all. A man has many warnings of ruin, and 
when things were going badly in the stock market, 
Richard Boyce, who on his return from the East had 
been elected by acclamation a member of several 
fashionable clubs, tried to retrieve himself at the gam- 
ing-table. Lastly, when money matters at home and 
abroad, when the anxieties of his wife and the altered 
manners of his acquaintance in and out of the House 
of Commons grew more than usually disagreeable, a 
certain little chorus girl came upon the scene and 
served to make both money and repentance scarcer 

[ 92 ] 


even than they were before. No story could be more 
commonplace or more detestable. 

'Ah, how well I remember that poor old fellow - 
old John Boyce,' said Lord Maxwell, slowly, shaking 
his stately white head over it, as he leant talking and 
musing against the mantelpiece. 'I saw him the day 
he came back froia the attempt to hush up the com- 
pany business. I met him in the road, and could not 
help pulling up to speak to him. I was so sorry for 
him. We had been friends for many years, he and I. 
"Oh, good God!" he said, when he saw me. "Don't 
stop me don't speak to me!" And he lashed his 
horse up as white as a sheet fat, fresh-coloured 
man that he was in general and was off. I never 
saw him again till after his death. First came the trial, 
and Dick Boyce got three months' imprisonment, on a 
minor count, while several others of the precious lot he 
was mixed up with came in for penal servitude. There 
was some technical flaw in the evidence with regard to 
him, and the clever lawyers they put on made the most 
of it; but we all thought, and society thought, that Dick 
was morally as bad as any of them. Then the papers 
got hold of the gambling debts and the woman. She 
made a disturbance at his club, I believe, during the 
trial, while he was out on bail anyway it all came 
out. Two or three other people were implicated in the 
gambling business men of good family. Altogether 
it was one of the biggest scandals I remember in my 

The old man paused, the long, frowning face sternly 
set. Aldous gazed at him in silence. It was certainly 
pretty bad worse than he had thought. 
[ 93 ] 


'And the wife and child?' he said, presently. 

'Oh, poor things!' - - said Lord Maxwell, forgetting 
everything for the moment but his story 'when 
Boyce's imprisonment was up they disappeared with 
him. His constituents held indignation meetings, of 
course. He gave up his seat, and his father allowed 
him a small fixed income she had besides some 
little money of her own which was secured him 
afterwards, I believe, on the estate during his brother's 
lifetime. Some of her people would have gladly per- 
suaded her to leave him, for his behaviour towards her 
had been particularly odious, and they were afraid, 
too, I think, that he might come to worse grief yet 
and make her life unbearable. But she would n't. 
And she would have no sympathy and no talk. I never 
saw her after the first year of their marriage, when she 
was a most radiant and beautiful creature. But, by 
all accounts of her behaviour at the time, she must be 
a remarkable woman. One of her family told me that 
she broke with all of them. She would know nobody 
who would not know him. Nor would she take money, 
though they were wretchedly poor; and Dick Boyce 
was not squeamish. She went off to little lodgings in 
the country or abroad with him without a word. At 
the same time, it was plain that her life was withered. 
She could make one great effort ; but, according to my 
informant, she had no energy left for anything else - 
not even to take interest in her little girl ' 

Aldous made a movement. 

'Suppose we talk about her,' he said rather shortly. 

Lord Maxwell started and recollected himself. After 
a pause he said, looking down under his spectacles at 

[ 94 ] 


his grandson with an expression in which discomfort 
strove with humour 

'I see. You think we are beating about the bush. 
Perhaps we are. It is the difference between being old 
and being young, Aldous, my boy. Well now then 

- for Miss Boyce. How much have you seen of her? 

- how deep has it gone? You can't wonder that I am 
knocked over. To bring that man amongst us ! Why, 
the hound !' cried the old man, suddenly, 'we could not 
even get him to come and see his father when he was 
dying. John had lost his memory mostly had for- 
.gotten, anyway, to be angry and just craved for 
Dick, for the only creature he had ever loved. With 
great difficulty I traced the man, and tried my utmost. 
No good! He came when his father no longer knew 
him, an hour before the end. His nerves, I understood, 
were delicate not so delicate, however, as to pre- 
vent his being present at the reading of the will! I 
have never forgiven him that cruelty to the old man, 
and never will!' 

And Lord Maxwell began to pace the library again, 
by way of working off memory and indignation. 

Aldous watched him rather gloomily. They had 
now been discussing Boyce's criminalities in great 
detail for a considerable time, and nothing else seemed 
to have any power to touch or, at any rate, to hold 

- Lord Maxwell's attention. A certain deep pride in 
Aldous the pride of intimate affection felt itself 

'I see that you have grave cause to think badly of 
her father/ he said at last, rising as he spoke. 'I must 
think how it concerns me. And to-morrow you must 
[ 95 ] 


let me tell you something about her. After all, she has 
done none of these things. But I ought not to keep 
you up like this. You will remember Clarke was very 
emphatic about your not exhausting yourself at night, 
last time he was here/ 

Lord Maxwell turned and stared. 

'Why why, what is the matter with you, Aldous? 
Offended ? Well well - - There I am an old fool ! ' 

And, walking up to his grandson, he laid an affec- 
tionate and rather shaking hand on the younger 's 

'You have a great charge upon you, Aldous a 
charge for the future. It has upset me I shall be 
calmer to-morrow. But as to any quarrel between us ! 
Are you a youth, or am I a three-tailed bashaw? As 
to money, you know, I care nothing. But it goes 
against me, my boy, it goes against me, that your wife 
should bring such a story as that with her into this 

' I understand, ' said Aldous, wincing. ' But you must 
see her, grandfather. Only, let me say it again - 
don't for one moment take it for granted that she will 
marry me. I never saw any one so free, so unspoilt, so 

His eyes glowed with the pleasure of remembering 
her looks, her tones. 

Lord Maxwell withdrew his hand and shook his head 

' You have a great deal to offer. No woman, unless 
she were either foolish or totally unexperienced, could 
overlook that. Is she about twenty?' 

'About twenty/ 


Lord Maxwell waited a moment, then, bending over 
the fire, shrugged his shoulders in mock despair. 

' It is evident you are out of love with me, Aldous. 
Why, I don't know yet whether she is dark or fair ! ' 

The conversation jarred on both sides. Aldous made 
an effort. 

'She is very dark/ he said; 'like her mother in 
many ways, only quite different in colour. To me she 
seems the most beautiful the only beautiful woman 
I have ever seen. I should think she was very clever 
in some ways and very unformed childish almost 
- in others. The Hardens say she has done every- 
thing she could of course it is n't much for that 
miserable village in the time she has been there. Oh ! 
by the way, she is a Socialist. She thinks that all we 
landowners should be done away with/ 

Aldous looked round at his grandfather, so soon 
probably to be one of the lights of a Tory Cabinet, and 
laughed. So, to his relief, did Lord Maxwell. 

'Well, don't let her fall into young Wharton's 
clutches, Aldous, or he will be setting her to canvass. 
So, she is beautiful and she is clever and good, my 
boy? If she comes here, she will have to fill your 
mother's and your grandmother's place/ ^ 

Aldous tried to reply once or twice, but failed. 

' If I did not feel that she were everything in herself 
to be loved and respected ' he said at last, with some 
formality ' I should not long, as I do, to bring you 
and her together/ 

Silence fell again. But instinctively Aldous felt that 
his grandfather's mood had grown gentler his own 
task easier. He seized on the moment at once. 
[ 97 ] 


'In the whole business/ he said, half -smiling, 'there 
is only one thing clear, grandfather, and that is, that, 
if you will, you can do me a great service with Miss 

Lord Maxwell turned quickly and was all sharp 
attention, the keen, commanding eyes under their fine 
brows absorbing, as it were, expression and life from 
the rest of the blanched and wrinkled face. 

'You could, if you would, make matters easy for her 
and her mother in the county/ said Aldous, anxious 
to carry it off lightly. 'You could, if you would, with- 
out committing yourself to any personal contact with 
Boyce himself, make it possible for me to bring her 
here, so that you and my aunt might see her and 

The old man's expression darkened. 

'What, take back that note, Aldous! I never wrote 
anything with greater satisfaction in my life!' 

'Well, more or less/ said Aldous, quietly. 'A 
very little would do it. A man in Richard Boyce's 
position will naturally not claim very much will 
take what he can get/ 

'And you mean besides/ said his grandfather, in- 
terrupting him, 'that I must send your aunt to call?' 

' It will hardly be possible to ask Miss Boyce here 
unless she does ! ' said Aldous. 

'And you reckon that I am not likely to go to Mellor, 
even to see her? And you want me to say a word to 
other people to the Winterbournes and the Levens, 
for instance?' 

'Precisely/ said Aldous. 

Lord Maxwell meditated ; then rose. 
[ 98 ] 


' Let me now appease the memory of Clarke by going 
to bed !' (Clarke was his lordship's medical attendant 
and autocrat.) 'I must sleep upon this, Aldous.' 

'I only hope I shall not have tired you out/ 

Aldous moved to extinguish a lamp standing on 
a table near. 

Suddenly his grandfather called him. 



But, as no words followed, Aldous turned. He saw 
his grandfather standing erect before the fire, and was 
startled by the emotion he instantly perceived in eye 
and mouth. 

'You understand, Aldous, that for twenty years 
it is twenty years last month since your father died 
- you have been the blessing of my life? Oh! don't 
say anything, my boy ; I don't want any more agita- 
tion. I have spoken strongly; it was hardly possible 
but that on such a matter I should feel strongly. But 
don't go away misunderstanding me don't imagine 
for one instant that there is anything in the world that 
really matters to me in comparison with your happi- 
ness and your future ! ' 

The venerable old man wrung the hand he held, 
walked quickly to the door, and shut it behind him. 

An hour later, Aldous was writing in his own sitting- 
room, a room on the first floor, at the western corner 
of the house, and commanding by daylight the falling 
slopes of wood below the Court, and all the wide 
expanses of the plain. To-night, too, the blinds were 
up, and the great view drawn in black and pearl, 
[99 ] 


streaked with white mists in the ground hollows and 
overarched by a wide sky holding a haloed moon, lay 
spread before the windows. On a clear night Aldous 
felt himself stifled by blinds and curtains, and would 
often sit late, reading and writing, with a lamp so 
screened that it threw light upon his book or paper, 
while not interfering with the full range of his eye over 
the night-world without. He secretly believed that 
human beings see far too little of the night, and so 
lose a host of august or beautiful impressions, which 
might be honestly theirs if they pleased, without bor- 
rowing or stealing from anybody, poet or painter. 

The room was lined with books, partly temporary 
visitors from the great library downstairs, partly his 
old college books and prizes, and partly representing 
;small collections for special studies. Here were a large 
number of volumes, blue-books, and pamphlets, bearing 
on the condition of agriculture and the rural poor in 
England and abroad ; there were some shelves devoted 
to general economics, and on a little table by the fire 
lay the recent numbers of various economic journals, 
English and foreign. Between the windows stood a 
small philosophical bookcase, the volumes of it full 
of small reference slips, and marked from end to end ; 
and on the other side of the room was a revolving 
book-table crowded with miscellaneous volumes of 
poets, critics, and novelists mainly, however, with the 
first two. Aldous Raeburn read few novels, and those 
with a certain impatience. His mind was mostly en- 
gaged in a slow wrestle with difficult and unmanage- 
able fact; and for that transformation and illumina- 
tion of fact in which the man of idealist temper must 
[ 100 ] 


sometimes take refuge and comfort, he went easily 
and eagerly to the poets and to natural beauty. Hardly 
any novel writing, or reading, seemed to him worth 
while. A man, he thought, might be much better 
employed than in doing either. 

Above the mantelpiece was his mother's picture - 
the picture of a young woman in a low dress and mus- 
lin scarf, trivial and empty in point of art, yet linked in 
Aldous's mind with a hundred touching recollections, 
buried, all of them, in the silence of an unbroken re- 
serve. She had died in childbirth when he was nine ; 
her baby had died with her, and her husband, Lord 
Maxwell's only son and surviving child, fell a victim 
two years later to a deadly form of throat disease, one 
of those ills which come upon strong men by surprise, 
and excite in the dying a sense of helpless wrong which 
even religious faith can only partially soothe. 

Aldous remembered his mother's death; still more 
his father's, that father who could speak no last mes- 
sage to his son, could only lie dumb upon his pillows, 
with those eyes full of incommunicable pain, and the 
hand now restlessly seeking, now restlessly putting aside 
the small and trembling hand of the son. His boyhood 
had been spent under the shadow of these events, 
which had aged his grandfather, and made him too 
early realise himself as standing alone in the gap of 
loss, the only hope left to affection and to ambition. 
This premature development, amid the most melan- 
choly surroundings, of the sense of personal import- 
ance not in any egotistical sense, but as a sheer 
matter of fact had robbed a nervous and sensitive 
temperament of natural stores of gaiety and elasticity 
[ 101 ] 


which it could ill do without. Aldous Raeburn had 
been too much thought for and too painfully loved. 
But for Edward Hallin he might well have acquiesced 
at manhood in a certain impaired vitality, in the 
scholar's range of pleasures, and the landowner's cus- 
tomary round of duties. 

It was to Edward Hallin he was writing to-night, 
for the stress and stir of feeling caused by the events 
of the day, and not least by his grandfather's out- 
burst, seemed to put sleep far off. On the table 
before him stood a photograph of Hallin, besides a 
miniature of his mother as a girl. He had drawn the 
miniature closer to him, finding sympathy and joy 
in its youth, in the bright expectancy of the eyes, 
and so wrote, as it were, having both her and his 
friend in mind and sight. 

To Hallin he had already spoken of Miss Boyce, 
drawing her in light, casual, and yet sympathetic 
strokes as the pretty girl in a difficult position whom 
one would watch with curiosity and some pity. To- 
night his letter, which should have discussed a home 
colonisation scheme of Hallin 's, had but one topic, and 
his pen flew. 

'Would you call her beautiful? I ask myself again 
and again, trying to put myself behind your eyes. 
She has nothing, at any rate, in common with the 
beauties we have down here, or with those my aunt 
bade me admire in London last May. The face has 
a strong Italian look, but not the Italian of to-day. Do 
you remember the Ghirlandajo frescoes in Santa Maria 
Novella, or the side groups in Andrea's frescoes at the 
Annunziata? Among them, among the beautiful tall 
[ 102 ] 

Passmore Edwards Settlement, London 


women of them, there are, I am sure, noble, freely- 
poised, suggestive heads like hers hair, black wavy 
hair, folded like hers in large simple lines, and faces 
with the same long, subtle curves. It is a face of the 
Renaissance, extraordinarily beautiful, as it seems to 
me, in colour and expression ; imperfect in line, as the 
beauty which marks the meeting-point between an- 
tique perfection and modern character must always 
be. It has morbidezza unquiet, melancholy charm, 
then passionate gaiety everything that is most mod- 
ern grafted on things Greek and old. I am told that 
Burne-Jones drew her several times while she was in 
London, with delight. It is the most artistic beauty, 
having both the harmonies and the dissonances that 
a full-grown art loves. 

'She may be twenty or rather more. The mind has 
all sorts of ability; comes to the right conclusion by 
a divine instinct, ignoring the how and why. What 
does such a being want with the drudgery of learning? 
to such keenness life will be master enough. Yet she 
has evidently read a good deal much poetry, some 
scattered political economy, some modern socialistic 
books, Matthew Arnold, Ruskin, Carlyle. She takes 
everything dramatically, imaginatively, goes straight 
from it to life, and back again. Among the young 
people with whom she made acquaintance while she 
was boarding in London and working at South Ken- 
sington, there seem to have been two brothers, both 
artists, and both Socialists; ardent young fellows, giv- 
ing all their spare time to good works, who must have 
influenced her a great deal. She is full of angers and 
revolts, which you would delight in. And first of all, 
[ 103 ] 


she is applying herself to her father's wretched village, 
which will keep her hands full. A large and passionate 
humanity plays about her. What she says often seems 
to me foolish in the ear ; but the inner sense, the 
heart of it, command me. 

'Stare as you please, Ned! Only write to me, and 
come down here as soon as you can. I can and will 
hide nothing from you, so you will believe me when 
I say that all is uncertain, that I know nothing, and, 
though I hope everything, may just as well fear every- 
thing too. But somehow I am another man, and the 
world shines and glows for me by day and night/ 

Aldous Raeburn rose from his chair, and, going to 
the window, stood looking out at the splendour of the 
autumn moon. Marcella moved across the whiteness 
of the grass; her voice was still speaking to his inward 
ear. His lips smiled ; his heart was in a wild whirl of 

Then he walked to the table, took up his letter, read 
it, tore it across, and locked the fragments in a drawer. 

'Not yet, Ned not yet, dear old fellow, even to 
you/ he said to himself, as he put out his lamp. 


THREE days passed. On the fourth Marcella returned 
late in the afternoon from a round of parish visits 
with Mary Harden. As she opened the oak doors which 
shut off the central hall of Mellor from the outer ves- 
tibule, she saw something white lying on the old cut 
and disused billiard table, which still occupied the 
middle of the floor till Richard Boyce, in the course 
of his economies and improvements, could replace it 
by a new one. 

She ran forward and took up a sheaf of cards, turn- 
ing them over in a smiling excitement. ' Viscount Max- 
well/ 'Mr. Raeburn,' 'Miss Raeburn/ 'Lady Winter- 
bourne and the Misses Winterbourne/ two cards of 
Lord Winterbourne's all perfectly in form. 

Then a thought flashed upon her. 'Of course it is 
his doing and I asked him!' 

The cards dropped from her hand on the billiard - 
table, and she stood looking at them, her pride fight- 
ing with her pleasure. There was something else in 
her feeling too the exultation of proved power over 
a person not, as she guessed, easily influenced, espe- 
cially by women. 

'Marcella, is that you? 7 

It was her mother's voice. Mrs. Boyce had come in 

from the garden through the drawing-room, and was 

standing at the inner door of the hall, trying with 

shortsighted eyes to distinguish her daughter among 

[ 105 ] 


the shadows of the great bare place. A dark day was 
drawing to its close, and there was little light left in 
the hall except in one corner where a rainy sunset 
gleam struck a grim contemporary portrait of Mary 
Tudor, bringing out the obstinate mouth and the white 
hand holding a jewelled glove. 

Marcella turned, and by the same gleam her mother 
saw her flushed and animated look. 

'Any letters?' she asked. 

'No; but there are some cards. Oh yes, there is a 
note/ and she pounced upon an envelope she had 
overlooked. ' It is for you, mother from the Court/ 

Mrs. Boyce came up and took note and cards from 
her daughter's hand. Marcella watched her with quick 

Her mother looked through the cards, slowly putting 
them down one by one without remark. 

'Oh, mother! do read the note!' Marcella could not 
help entreating. 

Mrs. Boyce drew herself together with a quick 
movement as though her daughter jarred upon her, 
and opened the note. Marcella dared not look over 
her. There was a dignity about her mother's lightest 
action, about every movement of her slender fingers 
and fine fair head, which had always held the daughter 
in check, even while she rebelled. 

Mrs. Boyce read it, and then handed it to Marcella. 

'I must go and make the tea/ she said, in a light, 
cold tone, and turning, she went back to the drawing- 
room, whither afternoon tea had just been carried. 

Marcella followed, reading. The note was from 
Miss Raeburn, and it contained an invitation to Mrs. 
[ 106 ] 


Boyce and her daughter to take luncheon at the 
Court on the following Friday. The note was courte- 
ously and kindly worded. 'We should be so glad/ 
said the writer, 'to show you and Miss Boyce our 
beautiful woods while they are still at their best, in 
the way of autumn colour/ 

'How will mamma take it?' thought Marcella, anx- 
iously. 'There is not a word of papa!' 

When she entered the drawing-room, she caught 
her mother standing absently at the tea-table. The 
little silver caddy was still in her hand as though she 
had forgotten to put it down; and her eyes, which 
evidently saw nothing, were turned to the window, 
the brows frowning. The look of suffering for an 
instant was unmistakeable ; then she started at the 
sound of Marcella's step, and put down the caddy 
amid the delicate china crowded on the tray, with all 
the quiet precision of her ordinary manner. 

'You will have to wait for your tea/ she said, 'the 
water does n't nearly boil/ 

Marcella went up to the fire and, kneeling before 
it, put the logs with which it was piled together. 
But she could not contain herself for long. 

'Will you go to the Court, mamma?' she asked 
quickly, without turning round. 

There was a pause. Then Mrs. Boyce said dryly - 

'Miss Raeburn's proceedings are a little unexpected. 
We have been here four months, within two miles of 
her, and it has never occurred to her to call. Now 
she calls and asks us to luncheon in the same after- 
noon. Either she took too little notice of us before, 
or she takes too much now don't you think so?' 
[ 107 ] 


Marcella was silent a moment. Should she confess? 
It began to occur to her for the first time that in her 
wild independence she had been taking liberties with 
her mother. 



'I asked Mr. Aldous Raeburn the other day whether 
everybody here was going to cut us! Papa told me 
that Lord Maxwell had written him an uncivil letter 

'You asked Mr. Raeburn - -' said Mrs. Boyce, 
quickly. 'What do you mean?' 

Marcella turned round and met the flash of her 
mother's eyes. 

'I could n't help it,' she said, in a low, hurried voice. 
'It seemed so horrid to feel everybody standing aloof 

we were walking together he was very kind and 
friendly and I asked him to explain.' 

'I see!' said Mrs. Boyce. 'And he went to his aunt 

and she went to Lady Winterbourne they were 
compassionate and there are the cards. You have 
certainly taken us all in hand, Marcella!' 

Marcella felt an instant's fear fear of the ironic 
power in the sparkling look so keenly fixed on her 
offending self; she shrank before the proud reserve 
expressed in every line of her mother's fragile, imperi- 
ous beauty. Then a cry of nature broke from the girl. 

'You have got used to it, mamma! I feel as if it 
would kill me to live here, shut off from everybody 
joining with nobody with no friendly feelings or 
society. It was bad enough in the old lodging-house 
days; but here why should we?' 
[ 108 ] 


Mrs. Boyce had certainly grown pale. 

'I supposed you would ask sooner or later/ she said, 
in a low determined voice, with what to Marcella was 
a quite new note of reality in it. 'Probably Mr. 
Raeburn told you but you must of course have 
guessed it long ago that society does not look kindly 
on us and has its reasons. I do not deny in the 
least that it has its reasons. I do not accuse anybody, 
and resent nothing. But the question with me has 
always been, Shall I accept pity? I have always been 
able to meet it with a No! You are very different 
from me but for you also I believe it would be the 
happiest answer/ 

The eyes of both met the mother's full of an 
indomitable fire which had for once wholly swept 
away her satiric calm of every day; the daughter's 
troubled and miserable. 

'I want friends!' said Marcella, slowly. 'There are 
so many things I want to do here, and one can do 
nothing if every one is against you. People would be 
friends with you and me and with papa too - 
through us. Some of them wish to be kind* --she 
added insistently, thinking of Aldous Raeburn's words 
and expression as he bent to her at the gate - ' I 
know they do. And if we can't hold our heads high 
because because of things in the past ought we 
to be so proud that we won't take their hands when 
they stretch them out when they write so kindly 
and nicely as this?' 

And she laid her fingers almost piteously on the 
note upon her knee. 

Mrs. Boyce tilted the silver urn and replenished 
[ 109 ] 


the tea-pot. Then with a delicate handkerchief she 
rubbed away a spot from the handle of a spoon near 

'You shall go/ she said, presently 'you wish it 
then go go by all means. I will write to Miss 
Raeburn and send you over in the carriage. One can 
put a great deal on health mine is quite serviceable 
in the way of excuses. I will try and do you no harm, 
Marcella. If you have chosen your line and wish to 
make friends here very well I will do what I can 
for you so long as you do not expect me to change my 
life for which, my dear, I am grown too crotchety 
and too old/ 

Marcella looked at her with dismay and a yearning 
she had never felt before. 

'And you will never go out with me, mamma?' 

There was something childlike and touching in the 
voice, something which for once suggested the normal 
filial relation. But Mrs. Boyce did not waver. She 
had long learnt perhaps to regard Marcella as a girl 
singularly well able to take care of herself; and had 
recognised the fact with relief. 

'I will not go to the Court with you anyway/ she 
said, daintily sipping her tea - 'in your interests as 
well as mine. You will make all the greater impression, 
my dear, for I have really forgotten how to behave. 
Those cards shall be properly returned, of course. 
For the rest let no one disturb themselves till they 
must. And if I were you, Marcella, I would hardly 
discuss the family affairs any more with Mr. Rae- 
burn or anybody else.' 

And again her keen glance disconcerted the. tall 


handsome girl, whose power over the world about 
her had never extended to her mother. Marcella 
flushed and played with the fire. 

'You see, mamma/ she said, after a moment, still 
looking at the logs and the shower of sparks they 
made as she moved them about, 'you never let me 
discuss them with you/ 

'Heaven forbid!' said Mrs. Boyce, quickly; then, 
after a pause: 'You will find your own line in a little 
while, Marcella, and you will see, if you so choose it, 
that there will be nothing unsurmountable in your 
way. One piece of advice let me give you. Don't be 
too grateful to Miss Raeburn, or anybody else! You 
take great interest in your Boyce belongings, I per- 
ceive. You may remember too, perhaps, that there is 
other blood in you and that no Merritt has ever 
submitted quietly to either patronage or pity/ 

Marcella started. Her mother had never named her 
own kindred to her before that she could remember. 
She had known for many years that there was a 
breach between the Merritts and themselves. The 
newspapers had told her something at intervals of 
her Merritt relations, for they were fashionable and 
important folk, but no one of them had crossed the 
Boyces' threshold since the old London days, wherein 
Marcella could still dimly remember the tall forms of 
certain Merritt uncles, and even a stately lady in a 
white cap whom she knew to have been her mother's 
mother. The stately lady had died while she was still 
a child at her first school ; she could recollect her own 
mourning-frock ; but that was almost the last personal 
remembrance she had, connected with the Merritts. 


And now this note of intense personal and family 
pride, under which Mrs. Boyce's voice had for the 
first time quivered a little ! Marcella had never heard 
it before, and it thrilled her. She sat on by the fire, 
drinking her tea and every now and then watching 
her companion with a new and painful curiosity. The 
tacit assumption of many years with her had been 
that her mother was a dry, limited person, clever and 
determined in small ways, that affected her own fam- 
ily, but on the whole characterless as compared with 
other people of strong feelings and responsive sus- 
ceptibilities. But her own character had been rapidly 
maturing of late, and her insight sharpening. During 
these recent weeks of close contact, her mother's 
singularity had risen in her mind to the dignity at 
least of a problem, an enigma. 

Presently Mrs. Boyce rose and put the scones down 
by the fire. 

'Your father will be in, I suppose. Yes, I hear the 
front door/ 

As she spoke she took off her velvet cloak, put it 
carefully aside on a sofa, and sat down again, still in 
her bonnet, at the tea-table. Her dress was very 
different from Marcella's, which, when they were not 
in mourning, was in general of the ample ' aesthetic ' 
type, and gave her a good deal of trouble out of doors. 
Marcella wore 'art serges' and velveteens; Mrs. Boyce 
attired herself in soft and costly silks, generally black, 
closely and fashionably made, and completed by vari- 
ous fanciful and distinguished trifles rings, an old 
chatelaine, a diamond brooch which Marcella re- 
membered, the same, and worn in the same way, since 


her childhood. Mrs. Boyce, however, wore her clothes 
so daintily, and took such scrupulous and ingenious 
care of them, that her dress cost, in truth, extremely 
little certainly less than Marcella's. 

There were sounds first of footsteps in the hall, then 
of some scolding of William, and finally Mr. Boyce 
entered, tired and splashed from shooting, and evi- 
dently in a bad temper. 

'Well, what are you going to do about those cards?' 
he asked his wife abruptly when she had supplied him 
with tea, and he was beginning to dry by the fire. He 
was feeling ill and reckless ; too tired anyway to trouble 
himself to keep up appearances with Marcella. 

'Return them/ said Mrs. Boyce, calmly, blowing 
out the flame of her silver kettle. 

'/ don't want any of their precious society/ he 
said, irritably. 'They should have done their calling 
long ago. There's no grace in it now; I don't know 
that one is n't inclined to think it an intrusion.' 

But the women were silent. Marcella's attention 
was diverted from her mother to the father's small 
dark head and thin face. There was a great repulsion 
and impatience in her heart, an angry straining 
against circumstance and fate ; yet at the same time a 
mounting voice of natural affection, an understanding 
at once sad and new, which paralysed and silenced her. 
He stood in her way terribly in her way and yet 
it strangely seemed to her, that never before till these 
last few weeks had she felt herself a daughter. 

'You are very wet, papa/ she said to him as she 
took his cup; 'don't you think you had better go at 
once and change?' 


'I'm all right/ he said, shortly 'as right as I'm 
likely to be, anyway. As for the shooting, it's nothing 
but waste of time and shoe-leather. I shan't go out 
any more. The place has been clean swept by some 
of those brutes in the village your friends, Mar- 
cella. By the way,' Evelyn, I came across young 
Wharton in the road just now.' 

'Wharton?' said his wife, interrogatively. 'I don't 
remember ought I?' 

'Why, the Liberal candidate for the division, of 
course,' he said, testily. 'I wish you would inform 
yourself of what goes on. He is working like a horse, 
he tells me. Dodgson, the Raeburns' candidate, has 
got a great start; this young man will want all his 
time to catch him up. I like him. I won't vote for 
him; but I'll see fair play. I've asked him to come 
to tea here on Saturday, Evelyn. He'll be back again 
by the end of the week. He stays at Dell's farm when 
he comes pretty bad accommodation, I should 
think. We must show him some civility.' 

He rose and stood with his back to the fire, his spare 
frame stiffening under his nervous determination to 
assert himself to hold up his head physically and 
morally against those who would repress him. 

Richard Boyce took his social punishment badly. 
He had passed his first weeks at Mellor in a tremble 
of desire that his father's old family and country 
friends should recognise him again and condone his 
'irregularities.' All sorts of conciliatory ideas had 
passed through his head. He meant to let people see 
that he would be a good neighbour if they would give 
him the chance not like that miserly fool, his 


brother Robert. The past was so much past; who 
now was more respectable or more well intentioned 
than he? He was an impressionable, imaginative man 
in delicate health ; and the tears sometimes came into 
his eyes as he pictured himself restored to society 
- partly by his own efforts, partly, no doubt, by the 
charms and good looks of his wife and daughter - 
forgiven for their sake, and for the sake also of that 
store of virtue he had so laboriously accumulated 
since that long-past catastrophe. Would not most 
men have gone to the bad altogether, after such a 
lapse? He, on the contrary, had recovered himself, 
had neither drunk nor squandered, nor deserted his 
wife and child. These things, if the truth were known, 
were indeed due rather to a certain lack of physical 
energy and vitality, which age had developed in him, 
than to self -conquest ; but he was no doubt entitled 
to make the most of them. There were signs indeed 
that his forecast had been not at all unreasonable. 
His women-kind were making their way. At the very 
moment when Lord Maxwell had written him a quell- 
ing letter, he had become aware that Marcella was 
on good terms with Lord Maxwell's heir. Had he not 
also been stopped that morning in a remote lane by 
Lord Winterbourne and Lord Maxwell on their way 
back from the meet, and had not both recognised and 
shaken hands with him? And now there were these 

Unfortunately, in spite of Raeburn's opinion to the 

contrary, no man in such a position and with such a 

temperament ever gets something without claiming 

more and more than he can conceivably or possibly 

[ 115 ] 


get. Startled and pleased at first by the salutation 
which Lord Maxwell and his companion had bestowed 
upon him, Richard Boyce had passed his afternoon 
in resenting and brooding over the cold civility of it. 
So these were the terms he was to be on with them 
the deuce take them and their pharisaical airs ! If all 
the truth were known, most men would look foolish; 
and the men who thanked God that they were not as 
other men, soonest of all. He wished he had not been 
taken by surprise; he wished he had not answered 
them; he would show them in the future that he 
would eat no dirt for them or anybody else. 

So on the way home there had been a particular 
zest in his chance encounter with the young man 
who was likely to give the Raeburns and their candi- 
date so all the world said a very great deal of 
trouble. The seat had been held to be an entirely 
safe one for the Maxwell nominee. Young Wharton, 
on the contrary, was making way every day, and, 
what with securing Aldous's own seat in the next 
division, and helping old Dodgson in this, Lord Max- 
well and his grandson had their hands full. Dick 
Boyce was glad of it. He was a Tory; but all the 
same he wished every success to this handsome, agree- 
able young man, whose deferential manners to him 
at the end of the day had come like ointment to a 

The three sat on together for a little while in silence. 
Marcella kept her seat by the fire on the old gilt 
fender-stool, conscious in a dreamlike way of the room 
in front of her the stately room with its stucco 
ceiling, its tall windows, its Prussian-blue wall-paper 
[ 116 ] 


behind the old cabinets and faded pictures, and the 
chair covers in Turkey-red twill against the blue, 
which still remained to bear witness at once to the 
domestic economies and the decorative ideas of old 
Robert Boyce conscious also of the figures on either 
side of her, and of her own quick-beating youth 
betwixt them. She was sore and unhappy; yet, on 
the whole, what she was thinking most about was 
Aldous Raeburn. What had he said to Lord Maxwell? 
and to the Winterbournes? She wished she could 
know. She wished with leaping pulse that she could 
see him again quickly. Yet it would be awkward too. 

Presently she got up and went away to take off her 
things. As the door closed behind her, Mrs. Boyce 
held out Miss Raeburn 's note, which Marcella had re- 
turned to her, to her husband. 

'They have asked Marcella and me to lunch/ she 
said. 'I am not going, but I shall send her/ 

He read the note by the firelight, and it produced 
the most contradictory effects upon him. 

'Why don't you go?' he asked her aggressively, 
rousing himself for a moment to attack her, and so 
vent some of his ill-humour. 

'I have lost the habit of going out/ she said quietly, 
'and am too old to begin again/ 

'What! you mean to say/ he asked her angrily, 
raising his voice, 'that you have never meant to do 
your duties here the duties of your position?' 

'I did not foresee many, outside this house and land. 
Why should we change our ways? We have done very 
well of late. I have no mind to risk what I have got/ 


He glanced round at her in a quick, nervous way, 
and then looked back again at the fire. The sight of 
her delicate blanched face had in some respects a 
more and more poignant power with him as the years 
went on. His anger sank into moroseness. 

'Then why do you let Marcella go? What good will 
it do her to go about without her parents? People 
will only despise her for a girl of no spirit as they 

'It depends upon how it is done. I can arrange it, 
I think/ said Mrs. Boyce. 'A woman has always con- 
venient limitations to plead in the way of health. She 
need never give offence if she has decent wits. It will 
be understood that I do not go out, and then some 
one Miss Raeburn or Lady Winterbourne will 
take up Marcella and mother her/ 

She spoke with her usual light gentleness, but he 
was not appeased. 

' If you were to talk of my health, it would be more 
to the purpose/ he said, with grim inconsequence. 
And raising his heavy lids he looked at her full. 

She got up and went over to him. 

' Do you feel worse again? Why will you not change 
your things directly you come in? Would you like 
Dr. Clarke sent for?' 

She was standing close beside him; her beautiful 
hand, for which in their young days it had pleased his 
pride to give her rings, almost touched him. A passion- 
ate hunger leapt within him. She would stoop and kiss 
him if he asked her ; he knew that. But he would not 
ask her; he did not want it; he wanted something 
that never on this earth would she give him again. 


Then moral discomfort lost itself in physical. 

'Clarke does me no good not an atom/ he said, 
rising. ' There don't you come. I can look after 

He went, and Mrs. Boyce remained alone in the 
great, fire-lit room. She put her hands on the mantel- 
piece, and dropped her head upon them, and so stood 
silent for long. There was no sound audible in the 
room, or from the house outside. And in the silence 
a proud and broken heart once more nerved itself to 
an endurance that brought it peace with neither man 
nor God. 

'I shall go, for all our sakes/ thought Marcella, as 
she stood late that night brushing her hair before her 
dimly-lighted and rickety dressing-table. 'We have, 
it seems, no right to be proud/ 

A rush of pain and bitterness filled her heart 
pain, new-born and insistent, for her mother, her father, 
and herself. Ever since Aldous Raeburn's hesitating 
revelations, she had been liable to this sudden inva- 
sion of a hot and shamed misery. And to-night, after 
her talk with her mother, it could not but overtake 
her afresh. 

But her strong personality, her passionate sense of 
a moral independence not to be undone by the acts of 
another, even a father, made her soon impatient of her 
own distress, and she flung it from her with decision. 

'No, we have no right to be proud/ she repeated to 

herself. ' It must all be true what Mr. Raeburn said 

probably a great deal more. Poor, poor mamma ! But, 

all the same, there is nothing to be got out of empty 

[ H9 ] 


quarrelling and standing alone. And it was so long 

Her hand fell, and she stood absently looking at her 
own black-and-white reflexion in the old flawed glass. 

She was thinking, of course, of Mr. Raeburn. He 
had been very prompt in her service. There could be 
no question but that he was specially interested in her. 

And he was not a man to be lightly played upon - 
nay, rather a singularly reserved and scrupulous 
person. So, at least, it had been always held con- 
cerning him. Marcella was triumphantly conscious 
that he had not from the beginning given her much 
trouble. But the common report of him made his 
recent manner towards her, this last action of his, 
the more significant. Even the Hardens so Marcella 
gathered from her friend and admirer Mary un- 
worldly, dreamy folk, wrapt up in good works, and in 
the hastening of Christ's kingdom, were on the alert 
and beginning to take note. 

It was not as though he were in the dark as to her 
antecedents. He knew all at any rate, more than 
she did and yet it might end in his asking her to 
marry him. What then? 

Scarcely a quiver in the young form before the glass ! 
Love, at such a thought, must have sunk upon its knees 
and hid its face for tender humbleness and requital. 
Marcella only looked quietly at the beauty which 
might easily prove to be so important an arrow in her 

What was stirring in her was really a passionate 
ambition ambition to be the queen and arbitress 
of human lives to be believed in by her friends, to 
[ 120 ] 


make a mark for herself among women, and to make 
it in the most romantic and yet natural way, without 
what had always seemed to her the sordid and un- 
pleasant drudgeries of the platform, of a tiresome co- 
operation with, or subordination to others who could 
not understand your ideas. 

Of course, if it happened, people would say that 
she had tried to capture Aldous Raeburn for his money 
and position's sake. Let them say it. People with base 
minds must think basely; there was no help for it. 
Those whom she would make her friends would know 
very well for what purpose she wanted money, power, 
and the support of such a man, and such a marriage. 
Her modern realism played with the thought quite 
freely; her maidenliness, proud and pure as it was, 
being nowise ashamed. Oh! for something to carry 
her deep into life ; into the heart of its widest and most 
splendid opportunities ! 

She threw up her hands, clasping them above her 
head amid her clouds of curly hair a girlish, excited 

' I could revive the straw-plaiting ; give them better 
teaching and better models. The cottages should be 
rebuilt. Papa would willingly hand the village over 
to me if I found the money ! We would have a parish 
committee to deal with the charities oh ! the Har- 
dens would come in. The old people should have their 
pensions as of right. No hopeless old age, no cringing 
dependence! We would try cooperation on the land, 
and pull it through. And not in Mellor only. One 
might be the ruler, the regenerator of half a county!' 

Memory brought to mind in vivid sequence the 


figures and incidents of the afternoon, of her village 
round with Mary Harden. 

'As the eyes of servants towards the hand of their 
mistress' the old words occurred to her as she 
thought of herself stepping in and out of the cottages. 
Then she was ashamed of herself and rejected the 
image with vehemence. Dependence was the curse of 
the poor. Her whole aim, of course, should be to teach 
them to stand on their own feet, to know themselves 
as men. But naturally they would be grateful, they 
would let themselves be led. Intelligence and enthusi- 
asm give power, and ought to give it power for 
good. No doubt, under Socialism, there will be less 
scope for either, because there will be less need. But 
Socialism, as a system, will not come in our generation. 
What we have to think for is the transition period. 
The Cravens had never seen that, but Marcella saw 
it. She began to feel herself a person of larger ex- 
perience than they. 

As she undressed, it seemed to her as though she 
still felt the clinging hands of the Kurd children 
round her knees, and through them, symbolised by 
them, the suppliant touch of hundreds of other help- 
less creatures. 

She was just dropping to sleep when her own words 
to Aldous Raeburn flashed across her, - 

'Everybody is so ready to take charge of other 
people's lives, and look at the result ! ' 

She must needs laugh at herself, but it made little 
matter. She fell asleep cradled in dreams. Aldous 
Raeburn's final part in them was not great ! 


MRS. BOYCE wrote her note to Miss Raeburn, a note 
containing cold though' civil excuses as to herself, while 
accepting the invitation for Marcella, who should be 
sent to the Court, either in the carriage or under the 
escort of a maid who could bring her back. Marcella 
found her mother inclined to insist punctiliously on 
conventions of this kind. It amused her, in submitting 
to them, to remember the free and easy ways of her 
London life. But she submitted and not un- 

On the afternoon of the day which intervened be- 
tween the Maxwells' call and her introduction to the 
Court, Marcella walked as usual down to the village. 
She was teeming with plans for her new kingdom, 
and could not keep herself out of it. And an entry in 
one of the local papers had suggested to her that Kurd 
might possibly find work in a parish some miles from 
Mellor. She must go and send him off there. 

When Mrs. Hurd opened the door to her, Marcella 
was astonished to perceive behind her the forms of 
several other persons filling up the narrow space of the 
usually solitary cottage in fact, a tea-party. 

'Oh, come in, Miss/ said Mrs. Hurd, with some 
embarrassment, as though it occurred to her that her 
visitor might legitimately wonder to find a person 
of her penury entertaining company. Then, lower- 
ing her voice, she hurriedly explained: 'There's Mrs. 
[ 123 ] 


Brunt come in this afternoon to help me wi the 
washin while I finished my score of plait for the 
woman who takes 'em into town to-morrow. And 
there 's old Patton an his wife you know 'em, 
Miss? them as lives in the parish houses top o' 
the common. He's walked out a few steps to-day. 
It 's not often he 's able, and when I see him through 
the door I said to 'em, "if you'll come in an take a 
cheer, I dessay them tea-leaves 'ull stan another 
wettin. I have n't got nothink else." And there's Mrs. 
Jellison, she came in along o' the Pattons. You can't 
say her no, she 's a queer one. Do you know her, Miss ? ' 

'Oh, bless yer, yes, yes. She knows me!' said a- 
high, jocular voice, making Mrs. Hurd start; 'she 
could n't be long hereabouts without makkin eeaste 
to know me. You coom in, Miss. We're not afraid o' 
you - - Lor bless you ! ' 

Mrs. Hurd stood aside for her visitor to pass in, 
looking round her the while, in some perplexity, to 
see whether there was a spare chair and room to place 
it. She was a delicate, willowy woman, still young in 
figure, with a fresh colour, belied by the grey circles 
under the eyes and the pinched sharpness of the 
features. The upper lip, which was pretty and childish, 
was raised a little over the teeth ; the whole expression 
of the slightly open mouth was unusually soft and 
sensitive. On the whole, Minta Hurd was liked in the 
village, though she was thought a trifle 'fine/ The 
whole family, indeed, 'kept theirsels to theirsels/ and 
to find Mrs. Hurd with company was unusual. Her 
name, of course, was short for Araminta. 

Marcella laughed as she caught Mrs. Jellison 's. re- 
[ 124 ] 


marks, and made her way in, delighted. For the 
present, these village people affected her like figures 
in poetry or drama. She saw them with the eye of the 
imagination through a medium provided by Socialist 
discussion, or by certain phases of modern art ; and the 
little scene of Mrs. Kurd's tea-party took for her in 
an instant the dramatic zest and glamour. 

'Look here, Mrs. Jellison,' she said, going up to her; 
' I was just going to leave these apples for your grand- 
son. Perhaps you'll take them, now you're here. 
They're quite sweet, though they look green. They're 
the best we've got, the gardener says/ 

'Oh, they are, are they?' said Mrs. Jellison, com- 
posedly, looking up at her. 'Well, put 'em down, Miss. 
I dare say he'll eat 'em. He eats most things, and 
don't want no doctor's stuff nayther, though his mother 
do keep on at me for spoilin his stummuck.' 

'You are just fond of that boy, aren't you, Mrs. 
Jellison?' said Marcella, taking a wooden stool, the 
only piece of furniture left in the tiny cottage on which 
it was possible to sit, and squeezing herself into a 
corner by the fire, whence she commanded the whole 
group. 'No! don't you turn Mr. Patton out of that 
chair, Mrs. Hurd, or I shall have to go away.' 

For Mrs. Hurd, in her anxiety, was whispering in 
old Patton 's ear that it might be well for him to 
give up her one wooden armchair, in which he was 
established, to Miss Boyce. But he, being old, deaf, 
and rheumatic, was slow to move, and Marcella's 
peremptory gesture bade her leave him in peace. 

'Well, it's you that's the young 'un, ain't it, Miss?' 
said Mrs. Jellison, cheerfully. 'Poor old Patton, he 
[ 125 ] 


do get slow on his legs, don't you, Patton? But there, 
there's no helping it when you're turned of eighty.' 

And she turned upon him a bright, philosophic eye, 
being herself a young thing not much over seventy, 
and energetic accordingly. Mrs. Jellison passed for the 
village wit, and was at least talkative and excitable 
beyond her fellows. 

'Well, you don't seem to mind getting old, Mrs. 
Jellison,' said Marcella, smiling at her. 

The eyes of all the old people round their tea-table 
were by now drawn irresistibly to Miss Boyce in the 
chimney-corner, to her slim grace, and the splendour 
of her large black hat and feathers. The new squire's 
daughter had so far taken them by surprise. Some 
of them, however, were by now in the second stage of 
critical observation none the less critical because 
furtive and inarticulate. 

'Ah?' said Mrs. Jellison, interrogatively, with a high, 
long-drawn note peculiar to her. 'Well, I've never 
found you get forrarder wi snarlin over what you 
can't help. And there's mercies. When you've had a 
husband in his bed for fower year, Miss, and he's took 
at last, you'll know/ 

She nodded emphatically. Marcella laughed. 

'I know you were very fond of him, Mrs. Jellison, 
and looked after him very well, too.' 

'Oh, I don't say nothin about that,' said Mrs. 
Jellison, hastily. 'But all the same you kin reckon it 
up, and see for yoursen. Fower year an fire up- 
stairs, an fire downstairs, an fire all night, an soom- 
thin allus wanted. An he such an objeck afore he 
died ! It do seem like a holiday now to sit a bit/ 


And she crossed her hands on her lap with a long 
breath of content. A lock of grey hair had escaped 
from her bonnet, across her wrinkled forehead, and 
gave her a half -careless rakish air. Her youth of long 
ago a youth of mad spirits, and of an extraordinary 
capacity for physical enjoyment seemed at times to 
pierce to the surface again, even through her load of 
years. But in general she had a dreamy, sunny look, 
as of one fed with humorous fancies, but disinclined 
often to the trouble of communicating them. 

'Well, I missed my daughter, I kin tell you/ said 
Mrs. Brunt, with a sigh, 'though she took a deal more 
lookin after nor your good man, Mrs. Jellison.' 

Mrs. Brunt was a gentle, pretty old woman, who 
lived in another of the village almshouses, next door 
to the Pattons, and was always ready to help her 
neighbours in their domestic toils. Her last remaining 
daughter, the victim of a horrible spinal disease, had 
died some nine or ten months before the Boyces 
arrived at Mellor. Marcella had already heard the 
story several times, but it was part of her social gift 
that she was a good listener to such things even at the 
twentieth hearing. 

'You would n't have her back, though/ she said, 
gently, turning towards the speaker. 

'No, I wouldn't have her back, Miss/ said Mrs. 
Brunt, raising her hand to brush away a tear, partly 
the result of feeling, partly of a long-established habit. 
'But I do miss her nights terrible! "Mother, ain't 
it ten o'clock? mother, look at the clock, do, 
mother ain't it time for my stuff, mother? oh, I 
do hope it is." That was her stuff, Miss, to make her 
[ 1*7 ] 


sleep. And when she'd got it, she'd groan you'd 
think she could n't be asleep, and yet she was, dead- 
like for two hours. I did n't get no rest with her, 
and now I don't seem to get no rest without her.' 

And again Mrs. Brunt put her hand up to her eyes. 

'Ah, you were allus one for toilin an frettin,' said 
Mrs. Jellison, calmly. 'A body must get through wi 
it when it's there, but I don't hold wi thinkin about 
it when it's done.' 

'I know one,' said old Patton, slyly, 'that fretted 
about her darter when it did n't do her no good.' 

He had not spoken so far, but had sat with his 
hands on his stick, a spectator of the women's hum- 
ours. He was a little hunched man, twisted and 
bent double with rheumatic gout, the fruit of seventy 
years of field-work. His small face was almost lost, 
doglike, under shaggy hair and overgrown eyebrows, 
both snow-white. He had a look of irritable eagerness, 
seldom, however, expressed in words. A sudden passion 
in the faded blue eyes; a quick spot of red in his old 
cheeks; these Marcella had often noticed in him, as 
though the flame of some inner furnace leapt. He had 
been a Radical and a rebel once in old rick-burning 
days, long before he lost the power in his limbs and 
came down to be thankful for one of the parish alms- 
houses. To his social betters he was now a quiet and 
peaceable old man, well aware of the cakes and ale to 
be got by good manners; but in the depths of him 
there were reminiscences and the ghosts of passions, 
which were still stirred sometimes by causes not al- 
ways intelligible to the bystander. 

He had rarely, however, physical energy enough 
[ 128 ] 


to bring any emotion even of mere worry at his 
physical ills to the birth. The pathetic silence of 
age enwrapped him more and more. Still he could 
gibe the women sometimes, especially Mrs. Jellison, 
who was in general too clever for her company. 

' Oh, you may talk, Patton ! ' said Mrs. Jellison, with 
a little flash of excitement. 'You do like to have your 
talk, don't you! Well, I dare say I was orkard with 
Isabella. I won't go for to say I was n't orkard, for I 
was. She should ha used me to 't before, if she wor 
took that way. She and I had just settled down com- 
fortable after my old man went, an I did n't see no 
sense in it, an I don't now. She might ha let the men 
alone. She'd seen enough o' the worrit ov 'em/ 

'Well, she did well for hersen,' said Mrs. Brunt, with 
the same gentle melancholy. 'She married a stiddy 
man as 'ull keep her well all her time, and never let her 
want for nothink.' 

'A sour, wooden-faced chap as iver I knew,' said 
Mrs. Jellison, grudgingly. 'I don't have nothink to 
say to him, nor he to me. He thinks hissen the Grand 
Turk, he do, since they gi'en him his uniform, and made 
him full keeper. A nasty, domineerin sort, I calls 
him. He's allus makin bad blood wi the yoong fellers 
when he don't need. It's the way he's got wi 'im. 
But I don't make no account of 'im, an I let 'im see 't.' 

All the tea-party grinned except Mrs. Kurd. The 
village was well acquainted with the feud between 
Mrs. Jellison and her son-in-law, George Westall, who 
had persuaded Isabella Jellison at the mature age of 
thirty-five to leave her mother and marry him, and 
was now one of Lord Maxwell's keepers, with good 
[ 129 ] 


pay, and an excellent cottage some little way out of 
the village. Mrs. Jellison had never forgiven her 
daughter for deserting her, and was on lively terms of 
hostility with her son-in-law; but their only child, 
little Johnnie, had found the soft spot in his grand- 
mother, and her favourite excitement in life, now that 
he was four years old, was to steal him from his parents 
and feed him on the things of which Isabella most 
vigorously disapproved. 

Mrs. Kurd, as has been said, did not smile. At the 
mention of Westall, she got up hastily, and began to 
put away the tea-things. 

Marcella meanwhile had been sitting thoughtful. 

'You say Westall makes bad blood with the young 
men, Mrs. Jellison?' she said, looking up. 'Is there 
much poaching in this village now, do you think?' 

There was a dead silence. Mrs. Hurd was at the 
other end of the cottage with her back to Marcella; 
at the question, her hands paused an instant in their 
work. The eyes of all the old people of Patton and 
his wife, of Mrs. Jellison, and pretty Mrs. Brunt - 
were fixed on the speaker, but nobody said a word, 
not even Mrs. Jellison. Marcella coloured. 

'Oh, you need n't suppose' - - she said, throwing 
her beautiful head back, 'you need n't suppose that 
/ care about the game, or that I would ever be mean 
enough to tell anything that was told me. I know it 
does cause a great deal of quarrelling and bad blood. 
I believe it does here and I should like to know 
more about it. I want to make up my mind what to 
think. Of course, my father has got his land and his 
own opinions. And Lord Maxwell has too. But I am 
[ 130 ] 


not bound to think like either of them I should like 
you to understand that. It seems to me right about 
all such things that people should inquire and find out 
for themselves.' 

Still silence. Mrs. Jettison's mouth twitched, and 
she threw a sly provocative glance at old Patton, as 
though she would have liked to poke him in the ribs. 
But she was not going to help him out ; and at last the 
one male in the company found himself obliged to 
clear his throat for reply. 

'We're old folks, most on us, Miss, 'cept Mrs. Kurd. 
We don't hear talk o' things now like as we did when 
we were younger. If you ast Mr. Harden he'll tell you, 
I dessay.' 

Patton allowed himself an inward chuckle. Even 
Mrs. Jellison, he thought, must admit that he knew 
a thing or two as to the best way of dealing with the 

But Marcella fixed him with her bright frank eyes. 

'I had rather ask in the village/ she said. 'If you 
don't know how it is now, Mr. Patton, tell me how it 
used to be when you were young. Was the preserving 
very strict about here? Were there often fights with 
the keepers long ago? in my grandfather's days? 
- and do you think men poached because they were 
hungry, or because they wanted sport?' 

Patton looked at her fixedly a moment, undecided ; 
then her strong nervous youth seemed to exercise a 
kind of compulsion on him; perhaps, too, the pretty 
courtesy of her manner. He cleared his throat again, 
and tried to forget Mrs. Jellison, who would be sure 
to let him hear of it again, whatever he said. 


'Well, I can't answer for 'em, Miss, I'm sure, but 
if you ast me, I b'lieve ther's a bit o' boath in it. Yer 
see it's not in human natur, when a man's young and 's 
got his blood up, as he should n't want ter have 'is 
sport with the wild creeturs. Perhaps he see 'em when 
'ee 's going to the wood with a wood -cart or he cooms 
across 'em in the turnips wounded birds, you under- 
stan, Miss, perhaps the day after the gentry 'as been 
bangin at 'em all day. An 'ee don't see, not for the 
life of 'im, why 'ee should n't have 'em. Ther's bin lots 
an lots for the rich folks, an he don't see why 'ee 
shouldn't have a few arter they've enjoyed their- 
selves. And mebbe he's eleven shillin a week an 
two-threy little chillen you understan, Miss?' 

'Of course I understand!' said Marcella, eagerly, 
her dark cheek flushing. 'Of course I do ! But there's 
a good deal of game given away in these parts, is n't 
there? I know Lord Maxwell does, and they say Lord 
Winterbourne gives all his labourers rabbits, almost as 
:many as they want.' 

Her questions wound old Patton up as though he 
had been a disused clock. He began to feel a whirr 
among his creaking wheels, a shaking of all his rusty 

'Perhaps they do, Miss/ he said, and his wife saw 
that he was beginning to tremble. 'I dessay they do 
I don't say nothink agen it though theer's none 
of it cooms my way. But that is n't all the rights on 
it nayther no, that it ain't. The labourin man 'ee's 
glad enough to get a hare or a rabbit for 'is eatin - 
but there 's more in it nor that, Miss. 'Ee 's allus in the 
fields, that's where it is 'ee can't help seein the hares 
[ 132 ] 


and the rabbits a-comin in and out o' the woods, if it 
were iver so. 'Ee knows ivery run ov ivery one on 'em ; 
if a hare's started furthest corner o' t' field, he can 
tell yer whar she'll git in by, because he's allus there, 
you see, Miss, an it's the only thing he's got to take 
his mind off like. And then he sets a snare or two - 
an 'ee gits very sharp at settin on 'em an 'ee'll go 
out nights for the sport of it. Ther is n't many things 
'ee 's got to liven him up ; an 'ee takes 'is chances o' goin 
to jail it's wuth it, 'ee thinks.' 

The old man's hands on his stick shook more and 
more visibly. Bygones of his youth had come back 
to him. 

'Oh, I know! I know!' cried Marcella, with an 
accent half of indignation, half of despair. 'It's the 
whole wretched system. It spoils those who've got, 
and those who have n't got. And there'll be no mend- 
ing it till the people get the land back again, and till 
the rights on it are common to all.' 

'My ! she do speak up, don't she?' said Mrs. Jellison, 
grinning again at her companions. Then, stooping for- 
ward with one of her wild movements, she caught 
Marcella's arm 'I'd like to hear yer tell that to 
Lord Maxwell, Miss. I likes a roompus, I do/ 

Marcella flushed and laughed. 

' I would n't mind saying that or anything else to 
Lord Maxwell,' she said, proudly. 'I'm not ashamed 
of anything I think/ 

'No, I'll bet you ain't/ said Mrs. Jellison, with- 
drawing her hand. 'Now then, Patton, you say what 
you thinks. You ain't got no vote now you're in 
the parish houses I minds that. The quality don't 
[ 133 ] 


trouble you at 'lection times. This yoong man, Muster 
Wharton, as is goin round so free, promisin yer the 
sun out o' the sky, iv yer '11 only vote for 'im, so th' 
men say - - 'ee don't coom an set down along o' you 
an me, an cocker of us up as 'ee do Joe Simmons or 
Jim Kurd here. But that don't matter. Yur thinkin's 
yur own, anyway.' 

But she nudged him in vain. Patton had suddenly 
run down, and there was no more to be got out of him. 

Not only had nerves and speech failed him as 
they were wont, but in his cloudy soul there had risen, 
even while Marcella was speaking, the inevitable sus- 
picion which dogs the relations of the poor towards 
the richer class. This young lady, with her strange 
talk, was the new squire's daughter. And the village 
had already made up its mind that Richard Boyce 
was 'a poor sort,' and 'a hard sort' too, in his landlord 
capacity. He was n't going to be any improvement 
on his brother not a haporth ! What was the good 
of this young woman talking, as she did, when there 
were three summonses as he, Patton, heard tell, just 
taken out by the sanitary inspector against Mr. Boyce 
for bad cottages? And not a farthing given away in 
the village neither, except perhaps the bits of food 
that the young lady herself brought down to the vil- 
lage now and then, for which no one, in truth, felt any 
cause to be particularly grateful. Besides, what did 
she mean by asking questions about the poaching? 
Old Patton knew as well as anybody else in the village 
that during Robert Boyce's last days, and after the 
death of his sportsman son, the Mellor estate had be- 
come the haunt of poachers from far and near, and 

[ 134 ] 


that the trouble had long since spread into the neigh- 
bouring properties, so that the Winterbourne and Max- 
well keepers regarded it their most arduous business 
to keep watch on the men of Mellor. Of course the 
young woman knew it all, and she and her father 
wanted to know more. That was why she talked. 
Patton hardened himself against the creeping ways 
of the quality. 

'I don't think nought/ he said roughly in answer to 
Mrs. Jellison. ' Thinkin won't come atwixt me and the 
parish coffin when I'm took. I've no call to think, 
I tell yer.' 

Marcella's chest heaved with indignant feeling. 

'Oh, but, Mr. Patton!' she cried, leaning forward 
to him, 'won't it comfort you a bit, even if you can't 
live to see it, to think there's a better time coming? 
There must be. People can't go on like this always 
-hating each other and trampling on each other. 
They're beginning to see it now, they are! When I 
was living in London, the persons I was with talked 
and thought of it all day. Some day, whenever the peo- 
ple choose for they've got the power now they've 
got the vote there'll be land for everybody, and 
in every village there'll be a council to manage things, 
and the labourer will count for just as much as the 
squire and the parson, and he'll be better educated 
and better fed, and care for many things he does n't 
care for now. But all the same, if he wants sport and 
shooting, it will be there for him to get. For every- 
body will have a chance and a turn, and there'll be 
no bitterness between classes, and no hopeless pining 
and misery as there is now!' 
[ 135 ] 


The girl broke off, catching her breath. It excited 
her to say these things to these people, to these poor 
tottering old things who had lived out their lives to 
the end under the pressure of an iron system, and had 
no lien on the future, whatever Paradise it might bring. 
Again the situation had something foreseen and dra- 
matic in it. She saw herself, as the preacher, sitting 
on her stool beside the poor grate she realised as 
a spectator the figures of the women and the old man 
played on by the firelight the white, bare, damp- 
stained walls of the cottage, and in the background 
the fragile though still comely form of Minta Kurd, 
who was standing with her back to the dresser, and 
her head bent forward, listening to the talk while her 
fingers twisted the straw she plaited eternally from 
morning till night, for a wage of about Is. 3d. a week. 

Her mind was all aflame with excitement and de- 
fiance defiance of her father, Lord Maxwell, Aldous 
Raeburn. Let him come, her friend, and see for himself 
what she thought it right to do and say in this miserable 
village. Her soul challenged him, longed to provoke 
him ! Well, she was soon to meet him, and in a new 
and more significant relation and environment. The 
fact made her perception of the whole situation the 
more rich and vibrant. 

Patton, while these broken thoughts and sensations 
were coursing through Marcella's head, was slowly re- 
volving what she had been saying, and the others were 
waiting for him. 

At last he rolled his tongue round his dry lips and 
delivered himself by a final effort. 

'Them as likes, Miss, may believe as how things 
[ 136 ] 


are going to happen that way, but yer won't ketch 
me! Them as have got 'ull keep' --he let his stick 
sharply down on the floor 'an them as 'ave n't 
got 'ull 'ave to go without and lump it as long as 
you're alive, Miss, you mark my words!' 

'Oh, Lor, you wor allus one for makin a poor 
mouth, Patton!' said Mrs. Jellison. She had been 
sitting with her arms folded across her chest, part 
absent, part amused, part malicious. 'The young lady 
speaks beautiful, just like a book she do. An she's 
likely to know a deal better nor poor persons like you 
and me. All 7 kin say is, if there 's goin to be dividin 
up of other folks' property, when I'm gone, I hope 
George Westall won't get nothink ov it! He's bad 
enough as 't is. Isabella 'ud have a fine time if 'ee took 
to drivin ov his carriage.' 

The others laughed out, Marcella at their head, and 
Mrs. Jellison subsided, the corners of her mouth still 
twitching, and her eyes shining as though a host of 
entertaining notions were trooping through her- 
which, however, she preferred to amuse herself with 
rather than the public. Marcella looked at Patton 

'You've been all your life in this village, have n't 
you, Mr. Patton?' she asked him. 

'Born top o' Witchett's Hill, Miss. An my wife 
here, she wor born just a house or two further along, 
an we two bin married sixty-one year come next 

He had resumed his usual almshouse tone, civil and 
a little plaintive. His wife behind him smiled gently 
at being spoken of. She had a long fair face, and white 
[ 137 ] 


hair surmounted by a battered black bonnet, a mouth 
set rather on one side, and a more observant and 
refined air than most of her neighbours. She sighed 
while she talked, and spoke in a delicate quaver. 

'D'ye know, Miss/ said Mrs. Jellison, pointing to 
Mrs. Patton, 'as she kep school when she was young?' 

'Did you, Mrs. Patton?' asked Marcella, in her tone 
of sympathetic interest. 'The school was n't very big 
then, I suppose?' 

'About forty, Miss/ said Mrs. Patton, with a sigh. 
'There was eighteen the rector paid for, and eighteen 
Mr. Boyce paid for, and the rest paid for themselves.' 

Her voice dropped gently, and she sighed again like 
one weighted with an eternal fatigue. 

'And what did you teach them?' 

'Well, I taught them the plaitin, Miss, and as much 
readin and writin as I knew myself. It was n't as 
high as it is now, you see, Miss/ and a delicate flush 
dawned on the old cheek as Mrs. Patton threw a glance 
round her companions as though appealing to them 
not to tell stories of her. 

But Mrs. Jellison was implacable. ' It wor she taught 
me,' she said, nodding at Marcella and pointing side- 
ways to Mrs. Patton. 

'She had a queer way wi the hard words, I can tell 
yer, Miss. When she could n't tell 'em herself she'd 
never own up to it. "Say Jerusalem, my dear, and 
pass on." That's what she'd say, she would, sure's 
as you're alive! I've heard her do it times. An when 
Isabella an me used to read the Bible, nights, I'd 
allus rayther do 't than be beholden to me own darter. 
It gets yer through, anyway.' 
[ 138 ] 


'Well, it wor a good word/ said Mrs. Patton, blush- 
ing and mildly defending herself. 'It did n't do none 
of yer any harm/ 

' Oh, an before her, Miss, I went to a school to another 
woman, as lived up Shepherd's Row. You remember 
her, Betsy Brunt?' 

Mrs. Brunt's worn eyes began already to gleam and 

'Yis, I recolleck very well, Mrs. Jellison. She wor 
Mercy Moss, an a goodish deal of trouble you'd use to 
get me into wi Mercy Moss, all along o' your tricks/ 

Mrs. Jellison, still with folded arms, began to rock 
herself gently up and down as though to stimulate 

'My word, but Muster Maurice he wor the clergy- 
man here then, Miss wor set on Mercy Moss. He 
and his wife they flattered and cockered her up. Ther 
wor nobody like her for keepin school, not in their 
eyes till one midsummer she well she I 
don't want to say nothink onpleasant but she trans- 
gressed/ said Mrs. Jellison, nodding mysteriously, tri- 
umphant, however, in the unimpeachable delicacy of 
her language, and looking round the circle for approval. 

'What did you say?' asked Marcella, innocently. 
'What did Mercy Moss do?' 

Mrs. Jellison 's eyes danced with malice and mischief, 
but her mouth shut like a vice. Patton leaned forward 
on his stick, shaken with a sort of inward explosion ; 
his plaintive wife laughed under her breath till she 
must needs sigh because laughter tired her old bones. 
Mrs. Brunt gurgled gently. And finally Mrs. Jellison 
was carried away. 

[ 139 ] 


'Oh, my goodness me, don't you make me tell tales 
o' Mercy Moss!' she said at last, dashing the water 
out of her eyes with an excited tremulous hand. ' She 's 
bin dead and gone these forty year married and 
buried mos respeckable it 'ud be a burning shame 
to bring up tales agen her now. Them as tittle-tattles 
about dead folks need n't look to lie quiet theirselves 
in their graves. I ' ve said it times, and I '11 say it again. 
What are you lookin' at me for, Betsy Brunt?' 

And Mrs. Jellison drew up suddenly with a fierce 
glance at Mrs. Brunt. 

'Why, Mrs. Jellison, I niver meant no offence,' said 
Mrs. Brunt, hastily. 

'I won't stand no insinooating,' said Mrs. Jellison, 
with energy. 'If you've got soomthink agen me, you 
may out wi 't an niver mind the young lady.' 

But Mrs. Brunt, much flurried, retreated amid a 
shower of excuses, pursued by her enemy, who was 
soon worrying the whole little company, as a dog 
worries a flock of sheep, snapping here and teasing 
there, chattering at the top of her voice in broad dia- 
lect, as she got more and more excited, and quite as 
ready to break her wit on Marcella as on anybody else. 
As for the others, most of them had known little else 
for weeks than alternations of toil and sickness; they 
were as much amused and excited to-night by Mrs. 
Jellison 's audacities as a Londoner is by his favourite 
low comedian at his favourite music-hall. They played 
chorus to her, laughed, baited her; even old Patton 
was drawn against his will into a caustic sociability. 

Marcella meanwhile sat on her stool, her chin upon 
her hand, and her full glowing eyes turned upon the 

[ 140 ] 


little spectacle, absorbing it all with a covetous 

The light-heartedness, the power of enjoyment left 
in these old folk struck her dumb. Mrs. Brunt had an 
income of two-and-sixpence a week, plus two loaves 
from the parish, and one of the parish or 'charity' 
houses, a hovel, that is to say, of one room, scarcely 
fit for human habitation at all. She had lost five 
children, was allowed two shillings a week by two 
labourer sons, and earned sixpence a week about - 
by continuous work at 'the plait/ Her husband had 
been run over by a farm cart and killed; up to the 
time of his death his earnings averaged about twenty- 
eight pounds a year. Much the same with the Fattens. 
They had lost eight children out of ten, and were now 
mainly supported by the wages of a daughter in serv- 
ice. Mrs. Patton had of late years suffered agonies 
and humiliations indescribable, from a terrible illness 
which the parish doctor was quite incompetent to 
treat, being all through a singularly sensitive woman, 
with a natural instinct for the decorous and the 

Amazing! Starvation wages; hardships of sickness 
and pain ; horrors of birth and horrors of death ; whole- 
sale losses of kindred and friends; the meanest sur- 
roundings; the most sordid cares of this mingled 
cup of village fate every person in the room had 
drunk, and drunk deep. Yet here in this autumn 
twilight, they laughed, and chattered, and joked 
weird, wrinkled children, enjoying an hour's rough 
play in a clearing of the storm ! Dependent from birth 
to death on squire, parson, parish, crushed often, and 


ill-treated, according to their own ideas, but bearing 
so little ill-will; amusing themselves with their own 
tragedies even, if they could but sit by a fire and 
drink a neighbour's cup of tea. 

Her heart swelled and burned within her. Yes, the 
old people were past hoping for ; mere wreck and drift- 
wood on the shore, the spring-tide of death would soon 
have swept them all into unremembered graves. But 
the young men and women, the children, were they 
too to grow up, and grow old like these the same 
smiling, stunted, ignobly submissive creatures? One 
woman at least would do her best with her one poor 
life to rouse some of them to discontent and revolt ! 


1 HE fire sank, and Mrs. Hurd made no haste to light 
her lamp. Soon the old people were dim chattering 
shapes in a red darkness. Mrs. Hurd still plaited, 
silent and upright, lifting her head every now and 
then at each sound upon the road. 

At last there was a knock at the door. Mrs. Hurd 
ran to open it. 

'Mother, I'm going your way/ said a strident voice. 
'I'll help you home if you've a mind.' 

On the threshold stood Mrs. Jellison's daughter, 
Mrs. Westall, with her little boy beside her, the wo- 
man's broad shoulders and harsh, striking head stand- 
ing out against the pale sky behind. Marcella noticed 
that she greeted none of the old people, nor they her. 
And as for Mrs. Hurd, as soon as she saw the keeper's 
wife, she turned her back abruptly on her visitor, and 
walked to the other end of the kitchen. 

'Are you comin, mother?' repeated Isabella. 

Mrs. Jellison grumbled,' gibed at her, and made long 
leave-takings, while the daughter stood silent, waiting, 
and every now and then peering at Marcella, who had 
never seen her before. 

'I don't know where yur manners is/ said Mrs. Jelli- 
son sharply to her, as though she had been a child of 
ten, 'that you don't say good evenin to the young 

Mrs. Westall curtseyed low, and hoped she might be 
[ 143 ] 


excused, as it had grown so dark. Her tone was 
smooth and servile, and Marcella disliked her as she 
shook hands with her. 

The other old people, including Mrs. Brunt, departed 
a minute or two after the mother and daughter, and 
Marcella was left an instant with Mrs. Hurd. 

'Oh, thank you, thank you kindly, Miss/ said Mrs. 
Hurd, raising her apron to her eyes to stanch some 
irrepressible tears, as Marcella showed her the ad- 
vertisement which it might possibly be worth Kurd's 
while to answer. 'He'll try, you may be sure. But 
I can't think as how anythink 'ull come ov it.' 

And then suddenly, as though something unex- 
plained had upset her self-control, the poor patient 
creature utterly broke down. Leaning against the 
bare shelves which held their few pots and pans, she 
threw her apron over her head and burst into the 
f orlornest weeping. ' I wish I was dead ; I wish I was 
dead, an the chillen too ! ' 

Marcella hung over her, one flame of passionate 
pity, comforting, soothing, promising help. Mrs. Hurd 
presently recovered enough to tell her that Hurd had 
gone off that morning before it was light to a farm 
near Thame, where it had- been told him he might 
possibly find a job. 

'But he'll not find it, Miss, he'll not find it/ she 
said, twisting her hands in a sort of restless misery; 
'there's nothing good happens to such as us. An he 
wor allus a one to work if he could get it/ 

There was a sound outside. Mrs. Hurd flew to the 
door, and a short, deformed man, with a large head 
and red hair, stumbled in blindly, splashed with mud 

[ 144 ] 


up to his waist, and evidently spent with long 

He stopped on the threshold, straining his eyes to 
see through the firelit gloom. 

'It's Miss Boyce, Jim/ said his wife. 'Did you 
hear of anything?' 

'They're turnin off hands instead of takin ov 'em 
on,' he said briefly, and fell into a chair by the grate. 

He had hardly greeted Marcella, who had certainly 
looked to be greeted. Ever since her arrival in August, 
as she had told Aldous Raeburn, she had taken a warm 
interest in this man and his family. There was some- 
thing about them which marked them out a bit from 
their fellows whether it was the husband's strange 
but not repulsive deformity, contrasted with the touch 
of plaintive grace in the wife, or the charm of the elfish 
children, with their tiny, stick-like arms and legs, and 
the glancing wildness of their blue eyes, under the 
frizzle of red hair, which shone round their little sickly 
faces. Very soon she had begun to haunt them in her 
eager way, to try and penetrate their peasant lives, 
which were so full of enigma and attraction to her, 
mainly because of their very defectiveness, their close- 
ness to an animal simplicity, never to be reached by 
any one of her sort. She soon discovered or imagined 
that Hurd had more education than his neighbours. 
At any rate, he would sit listening to her and smok- 
ing, as she made him do while she talked politics 
and Socialism to him; and though he said little in 
return, she made the most of it, and was sure anyway 
that he was glad to see her come in, and must some 
time read the labour newspapers and Venturist leaflets 
[ 145 ] 


she brought him, for they were always well thumbed 
before they came back to her. 

But to-night his sullen weariness would make no 
effort, and the hunted, restless glances he threw from 
side to side as he sat crouching over the fire the 
large mouth tight shut, the nostrils working showed 
her that he would be glad when she went away. 

Her young exacting temper was piqued. She had 
been for some time trying to arrange their lives for 
them. So, in spite of his dumb resistance, she lingered 
on, questioning and suggesting. As to the advertise- 
ment she had brought down, he put it aside almost 
without looking at it. 'There ud be a hun'erd men 
after it before ever he could get there/ was all he would 
say to it. Then she inquired if he had been to ask the 
steward of the Maxwell Court estate for work. He did 
not answer, but Mrs. Kurd said timidly that she 
heard tell a new drive was to be made that winter for 
the sake of giving employment. But their own men 
on the estate would come first, and there were plenty 
of them out of work. 

'Well, but there is the game/ persisted Marcella. 
'Isn't it possible they might want some extra men 
now the pheasant shooting has begun? I might go 
and inquire of Westall I know him a little.' 

The wife made a startled movement, and Hurd 
raised his misshapen form with a jerk. 

'Thank yer, Miss, but I'll not trouble yer. I don't 
want nothing to do with Westall/ 

And taking up a bit of half -burnt wood which lay 
on the hearth, he threw it violently back into the 
grate. Marcella looked from one to the other with 
[ 146 ] 


surprise. Mrs. Kurd's expression was one of miserable 
discomfort, and she kept twisting her apron in her 
gnarled hands. 

'Yes, I shall tell, Jim!' she broke out. 'I shall. I 
know Miss Boyce is one as ull understand ' 

Hurd turned round and looked at his wife full. But 
she persisted. 

'You see, Miss, they don't speak, don't Jim and 
George Westall. When Jim was quite a lad he was 
employed at Mellor, under old Westall, George's father 
as was. Jim was 'watcher,' and young George he was 
assistant. That was in Mr. Robert's days, you under- 
stand, Miss when Master Harold was alive; and 
they took a deal o' trouble about the game. An 
George Westall, he was allays leading the others a 
life -- tale-bearing an spyin, an settin his father 
against any of 'em as did n't give in to him. An, oh, 
he behaved fearful to Jim! Jim ull tell you. Now, 
Jim, what's wrong with you why should n't I tell?' 

For Hurd had risen, and as he and his wife looked 
at each other a sort of mute conversation seemed to 
pass between them. Then he turned angrily, and went, 
out of the cottage by the back door into the garden. 

The wife sat in some agitation a moment, then she 
resumed. 'He can't bear no talk about Westall it 
seems to drive him silly. But I say as how people 
should know.' 

Her wavering eye seemed to interrogate her com- 
panion. Marcella was puzzled by her manner it 
was so far from simple. 

'But that was long ago, surely,' she said. 

'Yes, it wor long ago, but you don't forget them 
[ 147 ] 


things, Miss! An Westall, he's just the same sort as 
he was then, so folks say/ she added hurriedly. 'You 
see Jim, Miss, how he's made? His back was twisted 
that way when he was a little un. His father was a 
good old man everybody spoke well of 'im but 
his mother, she was a queer mad body, with red hair, 
just like Jim and the children, and a temper ! my word. 
They do say she was an Irish girl, out of a gang as 
used to work near here an she let him drop one day 
when she was in liquor, an never took no trouble 
about him afterwards. He was a poor sickly lad, he 
was! you'd wonder how he grew up at all. And oh! 
George Westall he treated him cruel. He'd kick and 
swear at him ; then he 'd dare him to fight, an thrash 
him till the others came in, an got him away. Then 
;he 'd carry tales to his father, an one day old Westall 
beat Jim within an inch of 'is life, with a strap end, 
because of a lie George told 'im. The poor chap lay 
in a ditch under Disley Wood all day, because he was 
that knocked about he could n't walk, and at night he 
crawled home on his hands and knees. He's shown 
me the place many a time ! Then he told his father, and 
next morning he told me, as he could n't stand it no 
longer, an he never went back no more.' 

'And he told no one else? he never complained?' 
asked Marcella, indignantly. 

'What ud ha been the good o' that, Miss?' Mrs. 
Kurd said, wondering. 'Nobody ud ha taken his word 
agen old Westell's. But he come and told me. I was 
housemaid at Lady Leven's then, an he and his 
father were old friends of ourn. And I knew George 
Westall too. He used to walk out with me of a Sunday, 
[ 148 ] 


just as civil as could be, and give my mother rabbits 
now and again, and do anything I'd ask him. An 
I up and told him he was a brute to go ill-treatin a 
sickly fellow as could n't pay him back. That made 
him as cross as vinegar, an when Jim began to be 
about with me ov a Sunday sometimes, instead of 
him, he got madder and madder. An Jim asked me 
to marry him he begged of me an I did n't know 
what to say. For Westall had asked me twice; an I 
was afeard of Jim's health, an the low wages he'd get, 
an of not bein strong myself. But one day I was 
going up a lane into Tudley End woods, an I heard 
George Westall on t'other side of the hedge with a 
young dog he was training. Somethin crossed him, 
an he flew into a passion with it. It turned me sick. 
I ran away and I took against him there and then. I 
was frightened of him. I dursent trust myself, and 
I said to Jim I'd take him. So you can understan, 
Miss, can't you, as Jim don't want to have nothing to 
do with Westall? Thank you kindly, all the same,' 
she added, breaking off her narrative with the same 
uncertainty of manner, the same timid scrutiny of her 
visitor that Marcella had noticed before. 

Marcella replied that she could certainly understand. 

'But I suppose they've not got in each other's way 
of late years,' she said as she rose to go. 

'Oh! no, Miss, no,' said Mrs. Kurd, as she went 
hurriedly to fetch a fur tippet which her visitor had 
laid down on the dresser. 

'There is one person I can speak to,' said Marcella, 
as she put on the wrap. 'And I will.' Against her will 
she reddened a little; but she had not been able to help 
[ 149 ] 


throwing out the promise. 'And now, you won't 
despair, will you? You'll trust me? I could always do 

She took Mrs. Kurd's hand with a sweet look and 
gesture. Standing there in her tall vigorous youth, her 
furs wrapped about her, she had the air of protecting 
and guiding this poverty that could not help itself. 
The mother and wife felt herself shy, intimidated. 
The tears came back to her brown eyes. 

When Miss Boyce had gone, Minta Kurd went to the 
fire and put it together, sighing all the time, her face 
still red and miserable. 

The door opened and her husband came in. He 
carried some potatoes in his great earth-stained 

'You're goin to put that bit of hare on? Well, mak 
eeaste, do, for I 'm starvin. What did she want to 
stay all that time for? You go and get it. I '11 blow the 
fire up damn these sticks! they're as wet as 
Dugnall pond.' 

Nevertheless, as she sadly came and went, prepar- 
ing the supper, she saw that he was appeased, in a 
better temper than before. 

'What did you tell 'er?' he asked, abruptly. 

'What do you s'pose I'd tell her? I acted for the 
best. I 'm always thinkin for you !' she said, as though 
with a little cry, 'or we'd soon be in trouble worse 
trouble than we are!' she added, miserably. 

He stopped working the old bellows for a moment, 
and, holding his long chin, stared into the flames. With 
his deformity, his earth-stains, his blue eyes, his brown 
[ 150 ] 


wrinkled skin, and his shock of red hair, he had the 
look of some strange gnome crouching there. 

'I don't know what you're at, I'll swear/ he said, 
after a pause. 'I ain't in any pertickler trouble just 
now if yer wouldn't send a fellow stumpin the 
country for nothink. If you'll just let me alone I'll 
get a livin for you and the chillen right enough. 
Don't you trouble yourself an hold your tongue!' 

She threw down her apron with a gesture of despair 
as she stood beside him, in front of the fire, watching 
the pan. 

'What am I to do, Jim, an them chillen when 
you're took to prison?' she asked him vehemently. 

' I shan't get took to prison, I tell yer. All the same, 
Westall got holt o' me this mornin. I thought p'r'aps 
you'd better know.' 

Her exclamation of terror, her wild look at him, 
were exactly what he had expected; nevertheless, he 
flinched before them. His brutality was mostly as- 
sumed. He had adopted it as a mask for more than 
a year past, because he must go his way, and she 
worried him. 

'Now, look here,' he said, resolutely, 'it don't 
matter. I'm not goin to be took by Westall. I'd kill 
him or myself first. But he caught me lookin at a 
snare this mornin it wor misty, and I did n't see 
no one comin. It wor close to the footpath, and it 
wor n't my snare/ 

' "Jim, my chap," says he, mockin, "I'm sorry for 
it, but I'm goin to search yer, so take it quietly," 
says he. He had young Dynes with him so I did n't 
say nought I kep as still as a mouse, an sure 


enough he put his ugly han's into all my pockets. An 
what do yer think he foun?' 

'What?' she said, breathlessly. 

'Nothink!' he laughed out. 'Nary an end o' string, 
nor a kink o' wire nothink. I'd hidden the two 
rabbits I got las' night, and all my bits o' things in a 
ditch far enough out o' his way. I just laughed at the 
look ov 'im.' "I'll have the law on yer for assault an 
battery, yer damned miscalculatin brute!" says I to 
him "why don't yer get that boy there to teach 
yer your business?" An off I walked. Don't you be 
af eared 'ee'll never lay hands on me!' 

But Minta was sore afraid, and went on talking and 
lamenting while she made the tea. He took little heed 
of her. He sat by the fire quivering and thinking. In 
a public-house two nights before this one, overtures 
had been made to him on behalf of a well-known gang 
of poachers with headquarters in a neighbouring 
county town, who had their eyes on the pheasant 
preserves in Westall's particular beat the Tudley 
End beat and wanted a local watcher and accom- 
plice. He had thought the matter at first too dan- 
gerous to touch. Moreover, he was at that moment 
in a period of transition, pestered by Minta to give 
up 'the poachin/ and yet drawn back to it after his 
spring and summer of field work by instincts only 
recently revived, after long dormancy, but now hard 
to resist. 

Presently he turned with anger upon one of Minta's 
wails which happened to reach him. 

'Look 'ere!' said he to her, 'where ud you an the 
chillen be this night if I 'ad n't done it? 'Ad n't we 


got rid of every stick o' stuff we iver 'ad? 'Ere's a 
well-furnished place for a chap to sit in!' --he 
glanced bitterly round the bare kitchen, which had 
none of the little properties of the country poor, no 
chest, no set of mahogany drawers, no comfortable 
chair, nothing, but the dresser and the few rush chairs 
and the table, and a few odds and ends of crockery 
and household stuff 'would n't we all a bin on the 
parish, if we 'ad n't starved fust would n't we? - 
jes answer me that ! Did n't we sit here an starve, till 
the bones was comin through the chillen's skin? 
didn't we?' 

That he could still argue the point with her showed 
the inner vulnerableness, the inner need of her affec- 
tion and of peace with her, which he still felt, far as 
certain new habits were beginning to sweep him from 

'It's Westall or Jenkins' (Jenkins was the village 
policeman) 'havin the law on yer, Jim,' she said with 
emphasis, putting down a cup and looking at him - 
' it 's the thought of that makes me cold in my back. 
None o' my people was ever in prison an if it 
'appened to you I should just die of shame!' 

'Then yer'd better take and read them papers there 
as she brought,' he said, impatiently, first jerking his 
finger over his shoulder in the direction of Mellor to 
indicate Miss Boyce, and then pointing to a heap of 
newspapers which lay on the floor in a corner ; 'they'd 
tell yer summat about the shame o' makin them 
game-laws not o' breakin ov 'em. But I'm sick 
o' this! Where's them chillen? Why do yer let that 
boy out so late?' 

[ 153 ] 


And opening the door he stood on the threshold 
looking up and down the village street while Minta, 
once more gave up the struggle, dried her eyes, and 
told herself to be cheerful. But it was hard. She was 
far better born and better educated than her husband. 
Her father had been a small master chairmaker in 
Wycombe, and her mother, a lackadaisical silly wo- 
man, had given her her 'fine' name by way of addi- 
tional proof that she and her children were something 
out of the common. Moreover, she had the conforming, 
law-abiding instincts of the well-treated domestic serv- 
ant, who has lived on kindly terms with the gentry 
and shared their standards. And for years after their 
marriage Hurd had allowed her to govern him. He 
had been so patient, so hard-working, such a kind 
husband and father, so full of a dumb wish to show 
her he was grateful to her for marrying such a fellow 
as he. The quarrel with Westall seemed to have sunk 
out of his mind. He never spoke to or of him. Low 
wages, the burden of quick-coming children, the bad 
sanitary conditions of their wretched cottage, and poor 
health had made they 1 lives one long and sordid 
struggle. But for years he had borne his load with 
extraordinary patience. He and his could just exist, 
and the man who had been in youth the lonely victim 
of his neighbours' scorn had found a woman to give 
him all herself and children to love. Hence years of 
submission, a hidden flowering-time for both of them. 

Till that last awful winter! the winter before 
Richard Boyce's succession to Mellor when the 
farmers had been mostly ruined, and half the able- 
bodied men of Mellor had tramped 'up into the smoke/ 
I 154 ] 


as the village put it, in search of London work then, 
out of actual sheer starvation that very rare excuse 
of the poacher ! Kurd had gone one night and 
snared a hare on the Mellor land. Would the wife and 
mother ever forget the pure animal satisfaction of that 
meal, or the fearful joy of the next night, when he 
got three shillings from a local publican for a hare and 
two rabbits? 

But after the first relief Minta had gone in fear and 
trembling. For the old woodcraft revived in Kurd, 
and the old passion for the fields and their chances 
which he had felt as a lad before his 'watcher's' place 
had been made intolerable to him by George Wes tail's 
bullying. He became excited, unmanageable. Very 
soon he was no longer content with Mellor, where, 
since the death of young Harold, the heir, the keepers 
had been dismissed, and what remained of a once 
numerous head of game lay open to the wiles of all 
the bold spirits of the neighbourhood. He must needs 
go on to those woods of Lord Maxwell's, which girdled 
the Mellor estate on three sides. And here he came 
once more across his enemy. For George Westall was 
now in the far better-paid service of the Court and 
a very clever keeper, with designs on the head keeper's 
post whenever it might be vacant. In the case of a 
poacher he had the scent of one of his own hares. It 
was known to him in an incredibly short time that 
that 'low easel ty fellow Hurd' was attacking 'his' 

Hurd, notwithstanding, was cunning itself, and 
Westall lay in wait for him in vain. Meanwhile, all the 
old hatred between the two men revived. Hurd drank 
[ 155 ] 


this winter more than he had ever drunk yet. It was 
necessary to keep on good terms with one or two 
publicans who acted as 'receivers' of the poached 
game of the neighbourhood. And it seemed to him 
that Westall pursued him into these low dens. The 
keeper big, burly, prosperous would speak to him 
with insolent patronage,, watching him all the time, 
or with the old brutality, which Hurd dared not re- 
sent. Only in his excitable dwarf's sense hate grew 
and throve, very soon to monstrous proportions. 
Westall's menacing figure darkened all his sky for him. 
His poaching, besides a means of livelihood, became 
more and more a silent duel between him and his boy- 
hood's tyrant. 

And now, after seven months of regular field-work 
and respectable living, it was all to begin again with 
the new winter ! The same shudders and terrors, the 
same shames before the gentry and Mr. Harden ! 
the soft, timid woman with her conscience could not 
endure the prospect. For some weeks after the harvest 
was over she struggled. He had begun to go out again 
at nights. But she drove him to look for employment, 
and lived in tears when he failed. 

As for him, she knew that he was glad to fail ; there 
was a certain ease and jauntiness in his air to-night as 
he stood calling the children : 

' Will ! you come in at once ! Daisy ! Nellie ! ' 

Two little figures came pattering up the street in 
the moist October dusk, a third panted behind. The 
girls ran in to their mother chattering and laughing. 
Hurd lifted the boy in his arm. 

'Where you bin, Will? What were yo out for in 
[ 156 ] 


this nasty damp? I've brought yo a whole pocket- 
full o' chestnuts, and summat else too/ 

He carried him into the fire and sat him on his 
knees. The little emaciated creature, flushed with the 
pleasure of his father's company, played contentedly 
in the intervals of coughing with the shining chestnuts, 
or ate his slice of the fine pear the gift of a friend 
in Thame which proved to be the 'summat else' of 
promise. The curtains were close-drawn ; the paraffin- 
lamp flared on the table, and as the savoury smell of 
the hare and onions on the fire filled the kitchen, the 
whole family gathered round watching for the moment 
of eating. The fire played on the thin legs and pinched 
faces of the children; on the baby's cradle in the 
further corner ; on the mother, red -eyed still, but able 
to smile and talk again ; on the strange Celtic face and 
matted hair of the dwarf. Family affection and the 
satisfaction of the simpler physical needs these 
things make the happiness of the poor. For this hour, 
to-night, the Hurds were happy. 

Meanwhile, in the lane outside, Marcella, as she 
walked home, passed a tall, broad-shouldered man in 
a velveteen suit and gaiters, his gun over his shoulder 
and two dogs behind him, his pockets bulging on 
either side. He walked with a kind of military air, 
and touched his cap to her as he passed. 

Marcella barely nodded. 

'Tyrant and bully!' she thought to herself, with 
Mrs. Kurd's story in her mind. 'Yet no doubt he is 
a valuable keeper; Lord Maxwell would be sorry to 
lose him ! It is the system makes such men and 
must have them.' 

[ 157 ] 


The clatter of a pony-carriage disturbed her thoughts. 
A small, elderly lady, with a very large mushroom hat, " 
drove past her in the dusk and bowed stiffly. Marcella 
was so taken by surprise that she barely returned the 
bow. Then she looked after the carriage. That was 
Miss Raeburn. 



WON'T you sit nearer to the window? We are rather 
proud of our view at this time of year/ said Miss Rae- 
burn to Marcella, taking her visitor's jacket from her 
as she spoke, and laying it aside. 'Lady Winterbourne 
is late, but she will come, I am sure. She is very pre- 
cise about engagements/ 

Marcella moved her chair nearer to the great bow- 
window, and looked out over the sloping gardens of 
the Court, and the autumn splendour of the woods 
girdling them in on all sides. She held her head nerv- 
ously erect, was not apparently much inclined to 
talk, and Miss Raeburn, who had resumed her knitting 
within a few paces of her guest, said to herself presently 
after a few minutes' conversation on the weather and 
the walk from Mellor : ' Difficult decidedly difficult 
-and too much manner for a young girl. But the 
most picturesque creature I ever set eyes on!' 

Lord Maxwell's sister was an excellent woman, the 
inquisitive, benevolent despot of all the Maxwell vil- 
lages; and one of the soundest Tories still left to a 
degenerate party and a changing time. Her brother 
and her great-nephew represented to her the flower of 
humankind ; she had never been capable, and probably 
never would be capable, of quarrelling with either of 
them on any subject whatever. At the same time she 
had her rights with them. She was at any rate their 
natural guardian in those matters, relating to woman- 
[ 159 ] 


kind, where men are confessedly given to folly. She 
had accordingly kept a shrewd eye in Aldous's interest 
on all the young ladies of the neighbourhood for many 
years past; knew perfectly well all that he might have 
done, and sighed over all that he had so far left un- 

At the present moment, in spite of the even good- 
breeding with which she knitted and chattered beside 
Marcella, she was in truth consumed with curiosity, 
conjecture, and alarm on the subject of this Miss 
Boyce. Profoundly as they trusted each other, the 
Raeburns were not on the surface a communicative 
family. Neither her brother nor Aldous had so far 
bestowed any direct confidence upon her; but the 
course of affairs had, notwithstanding, aroused her 
very keenest attention. In the first place, as we know, 
the mistress of Maxwell Court had left Mellor and its 
new occupants un visited ; she had plainly understood 
it to be her brother's wish that she should do so. How, 
indeed, could you know the women without knowing 
Richard Boyce? which, according to Lord Maxwell, 
was impossible. And now it was Lord Maxwell who 
had suggested not only that after all it would be kind 
to call upon the poor things, who were heavily weighted 
enough already with Dick Boyce for husband and 
father, but that it would be a graceful act on his 
sister's part to ask the girl and her mother to lunch- 
eon. Dick Boyce of course must be made to keep his 
distance, but the resources of civilisation were perhaps 
not unequal to the task of discriminating, if it were 
prudently set about. At any rate Miss Raeburn 
gathered that she was expected to try, and instead of 
[ 160 ] 


pressing her brother for explanations she held her 
tongue, paid her call forthwith, and wrote her note. 

But although Aldous, thinking no doubt that he had 
been already sufficiently premature, had said nothing 
at all as to his own feelings to his great-aunt, she knew 
perfectly well that he had said a great deal on the 
subject of Miss Boyce and her mother to Lady Winter- 
bourne, the only woman in the neighbourhood with 
whom he was ever really confidential. No woman, of 
course, in Miss Raeburn 's position, and with Miss Rae- 
burn's general interest in her kind, could have been 
ignorant for any appreciable number of days after the 
Boyces' arrival at Mellor that they possessed a hand- 
some daughter, of whom the Hardens in particular 
gave striking but, as Miss Raeburn privately thought, 
by no means wholly attractive accounts. And now, 
after all these somewhat agitating preliminaries, here 
was the girl established in the Court drawing-room, 
Aldous more nervous and preoccupied than she had 
ever seen him, and Lord Maxwell expressing^, particu- 
lar anxiety to return from his Board meeting in good 
time for luncheon, to which he had especially desired 
that Lady Winterbourne should be bidden, and no 
one else ! It may well be supposed that Miss Raeburn 
was on the alert. 

As for Marcella, she was on her side keenly con- 
scious of being observed, of having her way to make. 
Here she was alone among these formidable people, 
whose acquaintance she had in a manner compelled. 
Well what blame? What was to prevent her from 
doing the same thing again to-morrow? Her con- 
science was absolutely clear. If they were not ready 
[ 161 ] 


to meet her in the same spirit in which through Mr. 
Raeburn she had approached them, she would know 
perfectly well how to protect herself above all, how 
to live out her life in the future without troubling 

Meanwhile, in spite of her dignity and those inward 
propitiations it from time to time demanded, she was, 
in her human, vivid way, full of an excitement and 
curiosity she could hardly conceal as perfectly as she 
desired curiosity as to the great house and the life 
in it, especially as to Aldous Raeburn 's part therein. 
She knew very little indeed of the class to which by 
birth she belonged; great houses and great people 
were strange to her. She brought her artist's and 
student's eyes to look at them with; she was deter- 
mined not to be dazzled or taken in by them. At the 
same time, as she glanced every now and then round 
the splendid room in which they sat, with its Tudor 
ceiling, its fine pictures, its combination of every 
luxury with every refinement, she was distinctly con- 
scious of a certain thrill, a romantic drawing towards 
the stateliness and power which it all implied, together 
with a proud and careless sense of equality, of kinship 
so to speak, which she made light of, but would not 
in reality have been without for the world. 

In birth and blood she had nothing to yield to the 
Raeburns so her mother assured her. If things 
were to be vulgarly measured, this fact too must come 
in. But they should not be vulgarly measured. She 
did not believe in class or wealth not at all. Only 
as her mother had told her she must hold her 
head up. An inward temper, which no doubt led to 
[ 162 ] 


that excess of manner of which Miss Raeburn was 
meanwhile conscious. 

Where were the gentlemen? Marcella was beginning 
to resent and tire of the innumerable questions as 
to her likes and dislikes, her accomplishments, her 
friends, her opinions of Mellor and the neighbourhood, 
which this knitting lady beside her poured out 
upon her so briskly, when to her great relief the 
door opened and a footman announced 'Lady Winter- 

A very tall, thin lady in black entered the room at 
the words. 'My dear!' she said to Miss Raeburn, 'I 
am very late, but the roads are abominable, and those 
horses Edward has just given me have to be taken 
such tiresome care of. I told the coachman next time 
he might wrap them in shawls and put them to bed, 
and 7 should walk/ 

'You are quite capable of it, my dear/ said Miss 
Raeburn, kissing her. 'We know you! Miss Boyce 
Lady Winterbourne.' 

Lady Winterbourne shook hands with a shy awk- 
wardness which belied her height and stateliness. As 
she sat down beside Miss Raeburn the contrast be- 
tween her and Lord Maxwell's sister was sufficiently 
striking. Miss Raeburn was short, inclined to be stout, 
and to a certain gay profusion in her attire. Her cap 
was made of a bright silk handkerchief edged with 
lace; round her neck were hung a number of small 
trinkets on various gold chains; she abounded too in 
bracelets, most of which were clearly old-fashioned 
mementoes of departed relatives or friends. Her dress 
was a cheerful red verging on crimson ; and her general 
[ 163 ] 


air suggested energy, bustle, and a good-humoured 
common sense. 

Lady Winterbourne, on the other hand, was not 
only dressed from head to foot in severe black without 
an ornament; her head and face belonged also to the 
same impression, as of some strong and forcible study 
in black-and-white. The attitude was rigidly erect; 
the very dark eyes, under the snowy and abundant 
hair, had a trick of absent staring; in certain aspects 
the whole figure had a tragic, nay, formidable dignity, 
from which one expected, and sometimes got, the tone 
and gesture of tragic acting. Yet at the same time, 
mixed in therewith, a curious strain of womanish, nay 
childish, weakness, appealingness. Altogether, a great 
lady, and a personality yet something else too - 
something ill-assured, timid, incongruous hard to be 

'I believe you have not been at Mellor long?' the 
newcomer asked, in a deep contralto voice which she 
dragged a little. 

'About seven weeks. My father and mother have 
been there since May.' 

'You must of course think it a very interesting old 

'Of course I do; I love it/ said Marcella, discon- 
certed by the odd habit Lady Winterbourne had of 
fixing her eyes upon a person, and then, as it were, 
forgetting what she had done with them. 

'Oh, I have n't been there, Agneta/ said the new- 
comer, turning after a pause to Miss Raeburn, 'since 
that summer you remember that party when the 
Palmerstons came over so long ago twenty years!' 
[ 164 ] 


Marcella sat stiffly upright. Lady Winterbourne 
grew a little nervous and flurried. 

' I don't think I ever saw your mother, Miss Boyce 
- I was much away from home about then. Oh, yes, 
I did once ' 

The speaker stopped, a sudden red suffusing her 
pale cheeks. She had felt certain somehow, at sight 
of Marcella, that she should say or do something un- 
toward, and she had promptly justified her own pre- 
vision. The only time she had ever seen Mrs. Boyce 
had been in court, on the last day of the famous trial 
in which Richard Boyce was concerned, when she had 
made out the wife sitting closely- veiled as near to her 
husband as possible, waiting for the verdict. As she 
had already confided this reminiscence to Miss Rae- 
burn, and had forgotten she had done so, both ladies 
had a moment of embarrassment. 

'Mrs. Boyce, I am sorry to say, does not seem to be 
strong/ said Miss Raeburn, bending over the heel of 
her stocking. 'I wish we could have had the pleasure 
of seeing her to-day/ 

There was a pause. Lady Winterbourne's tragic 
eyes were once more considering Marcella. 

'I hope you will come and see me/ she said at last 
abruptly 'and Mrs. Boyce too.' 

The voice was very soft and refined though so deep, 
and Marcella looking up was suddenly magnetised. 

'Yes, I will/ she said, all her face melting into sens- 
itive life. 'Mamma won't go anywhere, but I will 
come, if you will ask me/ 

'Will you come next Tuesday?' said Lady Winter- 
bourne, quickly 'come to tea, and I will drive you 
[ 165 ] 


back. Mr. Raeburn told me about you. He says 
you read a great deal/ 

The solemnity of the last words, the fixedness of the 
tragic look, were not to be resisted. Marcella laughed 
out, and both ladies simultaneously thought her ex- 
traordinarily radiant and handsome. 

'How can he know? Why, I have hardly talked 
about books to him at all.' 

'Well! here he comes/ said Lady Winterbourne, 
smiling suddenly; 'so I can ask him. But I am sure 
he did say so/ 

It was now Marcella's turn to colour. Aldous Rae- 
burn crossed the room, greeted Lady Winterbourne, 
and next moment she felt her hand in his. 

'You did tell me, Aldous, did n't you/ said Lady 
Winterbourne, 'that Miss Boyce was a great reader?' 

The speaker had known Aldous Raeburn as a boy, 
and was, moreover, a sort of cousin, which explained 
the Christian name. 

Aldous smiled. 

'I said I thought Miss Boyce was like you and me, 
and had a weakness that way, Lady Winterbourne. 
But I won't be cross-examined!' 

'I don't think I am a great reader/ said Marcella, 
bluntly 'at least I read a great deal, but I hardly 
ever read a book through. I have n't patience.' 

'You want to get at everything so quickly?' said 
Miss Raeburn, looking up sharply. 

'I suppose so!' said Marcella. 'There seems to be 
always a hundred things tearing one different ways, 
and no time for any of them.' 

'Yes, when one is young one feels like that/ said 
[ 166 ] 


Lady Winterbourne, sighing. 'When one is old one 
accepts one's limitations. When I was twenty I never 
thought that I should still be an ignorant and dis- 
contented woman at nearly seventy/ 

' It is because you are so young still, Lady Winter- 
bourne, that you feel so/ said Aldous, laughing at her, 
as one does at an old friend. 'Why, you are younger 
than any of us ! I feel all brushed and stirred up a 
boy at school again after I have been to see you!' 

'Well, I don't know what you mean, I'm sure/ said 
Lady Winterbourne, sighing again. Then she looked 
at the pair beside her at the alert brightness in the 
man's strong and quiet face as he sat stooping forward, 
with his hands upon his knees, hardly able to keep 
his eyes for an instant from the dark apparition beside 
him at the girl's evident shyness and pride. 

'My dear!' she said, turning suddenly to Miss Rae- 
burn, 'have you heard what a monstrosity Alice has 
produced this last time in the way of a baby? It was 
born with four teeth!' 

Miss Raeburn's astonishment fitted the provoca- 
tion, and the two old friends fell into a gossip on the 
subject of Lady Winterbourne's numerous family, 
which was clearly meant for a tete-b-tete. 

'Will you come and look at our tapestry?' said 
Aldous to his neighbour, after a few nothings had 
passed between them as to the weather and her walk 
from Mellor. 'I think you would admire it, and I am 
afraid my grandfather will be a few minutes yet. He 
hoped to get home earlier than this, but his Board 
meeting was very long and important, and has kept 
him an unconscionable time/ 
[ 167 ] 


Marcella rose, and they moved together towards the 
south end of the room where a famous piece of Italian 
Renaissance tapestry entirely filled the wall from side 
to side. 

'How beautiful!' cried the girl, her eyes filling with 
delight. 'What a delicious thing to live with!' 

And, indeed, it was the most adorable medley 
of forms, tints, suggestions, of gods and goddesses, 
nymphs and shepherds, standing in flowery grass under 
fruit-laden trees and wreathed about with roses. Both 
colour and subject were of fairyland. The golds and 
browns and pinks of it, the greens and ivory whites 
had been mellowed and pearled and warmed by age 
into a most glowing, delicate, and fanciful beauty. It 
was Italy at the great moment subtle, rich, exuberant. 

Aldous enjoyed her pleasure. 

'I thought you would like it; I hoped you would. 
It has been my special delight since I was a child, when 
my mother first routed it out of the garret. I am not 
sure that I don't in my heart prefer it to any of the 

'The flowers!' said Marcella, absorbed in it 'look 
at them the irises, the cyclamens, the lilies ! It re- 
minds one of the dreams one used to have when one 
was small of what it would be like to have flowers 
enough. I was at school, you know, in a part of Eng- 
land where one seemed always cheated out of them ! 
We walked two and two along the straight roads, and 
I found one here and one there but such a beggarly, 
wretched few, for all one's trouble. I used to hate the 
hard dry soil, and console myself by imagining countries 
where the flowers grew like this yes, just like this, 

[ 168 ] 


in a gold and pink and blue mass, so that one might 
thrust one's hands in and gather and gather till one 
was really satisfied! That is the worst of being at 
school when you are poor ! You never get enough of 
anything. One day it's flowers but the next day it 
is pudding and the next frocks. 1 

Her eye was sparkling, her tongue loosened. Not 
only was it pleasant to feel herself beside him, en- 
wrapped in such an atmosphere of admiration and 
deference, but the artistic, sensitive chord in her had 
been struck, and vibrated happily. 

'Well, only wait till May, and the cowslips in your 
own fields will make up to you ! ' he said, smiling at her. 
1 But now, I have been wondering to myself in my 
room upstairs what you would like to see. There are 
a good many treasures in this house, and you will care 
for them, because you are an artist. But you shall 
not be bored with them! You shall see what and as 
much as you like. You had about a quarter of an 
hour's talk with my aunt, did you not?' he asked, in 
a quite different tone. 

So all the time while she and Miss Raeburn had 
been making acquaintance, he had known that she 
was in the house, and he had kept away for his own 
purposes ! Marcella felt a colour she could not restrain 
leap into her cheek. 

'Miss Raeburn was very kind/ she said, with a re- 
turn of shyness, which passed, however, the next 
moment by reaction, into her usual daring. 'Yes, she 
was very kind ! but all the same, she does n't like 
me I don't think she is going to like me I am 
not her sort.' 

[ 169 ] 


'Have you been talking Socialism to her?' he asked 
her, smiling. 

'No, not yet not yet/ she said, emphatically. 
' But I am dreadfully uncertain I can't always hold 
my tongue I am afraid you will be sorry you took 
me up/ 

'Are you so aggressive? But Aunt Neta is so mild ! 
she would n't hurt a fly. She mothers every one in 
the house and out of it. The only people she is hard 
upon are the little servant-girls, who will wear feathers 
in their hats ! ' 

'There!' cried Marcella, indignantly. 'Why should 
n't they wear feathers in their hats? It is their form 
of beauty their tapestry ! ' 

'But if one can't have both feathers and boots?' 
he asked her humbly, a twinkle in his grey eye. 'If 
one has n't boots, one may catch a cold and die of 
it which is, after all, worse than going featherless.' 

'But why can't they have feathers and boots? It 
is because you we have got too much. You have 
the tapestry and and the pictures' she turned 
and looked round the room 'and this wonderful 
house and the park. Oh no I think it is Miss 
Raeburn has too many feathers ! ' 

'Perhaps it is,' he admitted, in a different tone, his 
look changing and saddening as though some habitual 
struggle of thought were recalled to him. 'You see 
I am in a difficulty. I want to show you our feathers. 
I think they would please you and you make me 
ashamed of them.' 

'How absurd!' cried Marcella, 'when I told you 
how I liked the school-children bobbing to me!' 
[ 170 ] 


They laughed, and then Aldous looked round with 
a start 'Ah, here is my grandfather !' 

Then he stood back, watching the look with which 
Lord Maxwell, after greeting Lady Winterbourne, ap- 
proached Miss Boyce. He saw the old man's somewhat 
formal approach, the sudden kindle in the blue eyes 
which marked the first effect of Marcella's form and 
presence, the bow, the stately shake of the hand. The 
lover hearing his own heart beat, realised that his 
beautiful lady had so far done well. 

'You must let me say that I see a decided likeness 
in you to your grandfather/ said Lord Maxwell, when 
they were all seated at lunch, Marcella on his left 
hand, opposite to Lady Winterbourne. 'He was one 
of my dearest friends/ 

'I'm afraid I don't know much about him/ said 
Marcella, rather bluntly, 'except what I have got out 
of old letters. I never saw him that I remember/ 

Lord Maxwell left the subject, of course, at once, 
but showed a great wish to talk to her, and make her 
talk. He had pleasant things to say about Mellor 
and its past, which could be said without offence ; and 
some conversation about the Boyce monuments in 
Mellor Church led to a discussion of the part played 
by the different local families in the Civil Wars, in 
which it seemed to Aldous that his grandfather tried 
in various shrewd and courteous ways to make Mar- 
cella feel at ease with herself and her race, accepted, 
as it were, of right into the local brotherhood, and so 
to soothe and heal those bruised feelings he could not 
but divine. 

The girl carried herself a little loftily, answering with 


an independence and freedom beyond her age and born 
of her London life. She was not in the least abashed 
or shy. Yet it was clear that Lord Maxwell's first 
impressions were favourable. Aldous caught every now 
and then his quick, judging look sweeping over her 
and instantly withdrawn comparing, as the grand- 
son very well knew, every point, and tone, and gesture 
with some inner ideal of what a Raeburn's wife should 
be. How dream-like the whole scene was to Aldous, 
yet how exquisitely real ! The room, with its carved 
and gilt cedar-wood panels, its Vandykes, its tall win- 
dows opening on the park, the autumn sun flooding 
the gold and purple fruit on the table, and sparkling 
on the glass and silver, the figures of his aunt and Lady 
Winterbourne, the moving servants, and dominant of 
it all, interpreting it all for him anew, the dark, lithe 
creature beside his grandfather, so quick, sensitive, 
extravagant, so much a woman, yet, to his lover's 
sense, so utterly unlike any other woman he had ever 
seen every detail of it was charged to him with a 
thousand new meanings, now oppressive, now delightful. 
For he was passing out of the first stage of passion, 
in which it is, almost, its own satisfaction, so new 
and enriching it is to the whole nature, into the 
second stage the stage of anxiety, incredulity. Mar- 
cella, sitting there on his own ground, after all his 
planning, seemed to him not nearer, but further from 
him. She was terribly on her dignity ! Where was 
all that girlish abandonment gone which she had shown 
him on that walk, beside the gate? There had been 
a touch of it, a divine touch, before luncheon. How 
could he get her to himself again? 
[ 172 ] 


Meanwhile the conversation passed to the prevail- 
ing local topic the badness of the harvest, the low 
prices of everything, the consequent depression among 
the farmers, and stagnation in the villages. 

'I don't know what is to be done for the people 
this winter/ said Lord Maxwell, 'without pauperising 
them, I mean. To give money is easy enough. Our 
grandfathers would have doled out coal and blankets, 
and thought no more of it. We don't get through so 

'No/ said Lady Winterbourne, sighing. 'It weighs 
one down. Last winter was a nightmare. The tales 
one heard, and the faces one saw ! though we seemed 
to be always giving. And in the middle of it Edward 
would buy me a new set of sables. I begged him not, 
but he laughed at me/ 

'Well, my dear/ said Miss Raeburn, cheerfully, 'if 
nobody bought sables, there 'd be other poor people up 
in Russia, is n't it? or Hudson's Bay? badly off. 
One has to think of that. Oh, you need n't talk, Aldous ! 
I know you say it's a fallacy. 7 call it common sense/ 

She got, however, only a slight smile from Aldous, 
who had long ago left his great-aunt to work out her 
own economics. And, anyway, she saw that he was 
wholly absorbed from his seat beside Lady Winter- 
bourne in watching Miss Boyce. 

'It's precisely as Lord Maxwell says/ replied Lady 
Winterbourne; 'that kind of thing used to satisfy 
everybody. And our grandmothers were very good 
women. I don't know why we, who give ourselves 
so much more trouble than they did, should carry 
these thorns about with us, while they went free/ 
[ 173 ] 


She drew herself up, a cloud over her fine eyes. Miss 
Raeburn, looking round, was glad to see the servants 
had left the room. 

'Miss Boyce thinks we are all in a very bad way, 
I 'm sure. I have heard tales of Miss Boyce's opinions ! ' 
said Lord Maxwell, smiling at her, with an old man's 
indulgence, as though provoking her to talk. 

Her slim fingers were nervously crumbling some 
bread beside her; her head was drooped a little. At 
his challenge she looked up with a start. She was 
perfectly conscious of him, both as the great magnate 
of his native heath, and as the trained man of affairs 
condescending to a girl's fancies. But she had made 
up her mind not to be afraid. 

'What tales have you heard?' she asked him. 

'You alarm us, you know,' he said, gallantly, waiving 
her question. 'We can't afford a prophetess to the 
other side, just now.' 

Miss Raeburn drew herself up, with a sharp, dry 
look at Miss Boyce, which escaped every one but Lady 

'Oh ! I am not a Radical !' said Marcella, half -scorn- 
fully. 'We Socialists don't fight for either political 
party as such. We take what we can get out of 

'So you call yourself a Socialist? A real full-blown 

Lord Maxwell's pleasant tone masked the mood of 
a man who after a morning of hard work thinks him- 
self entitled to some amusement at luncheon. 

'Yes, I am a Socialist/ she said, slowly, looking at 
him. 'At least I ought to be I am in my conscience.' 
[ 174 ] 


'But not in your judgement?' he said, laughing. 
'Is n't that the condition of most of us?' 

'No, not at all!' she exclaimed, both her vanity 
and her enthusiasm roused by his manner. ' Both my 
judgement and my conscience make me a Socialist. 
It's only one's wretched love for one's own little 
luxuries and precedences the worst part of one 
that makes me waver, makes me a traitor ! The 
people I worked with in London would think me a 
traitor often, I know.' 

'And you really think that the world ought to be 
"hatched over again and hatched different"? That it 
ought to be, if it could be?' 

'I think that things are intolerable as they are,' 
she broke out, after a pause. 'The London poor were 
bad enough; the country poor seem to me worse! 
How can any one believe that such serfdom and 
poverty such mutilation of mind and body were 
meant to go on for ever ! ' 

Lord Maxwell's brows lifted. But it certainly was 
no wonder that Aldous should find those eyes of hers 
superb ! 

'Can you really imagine, my dear young lady,' he 
asked her mildly, 'that if all property were divided to- 
morrow the force of natural inequality would not have 
undone all the work the day after, and given us back 
our poor?' 

The 'newspaper cant' of this remark, as the Cravens 
would have put it, brought a contemptuous look for 
an instant into the girl's face. She began to talk 
eagerly and cleverly, showing a very fair training in 
the catchwords of the school, and a good memory as 
[ 175 ] 


one uncomfortable person at the table soon perceived 
for some of the leading arguments and illustrations 
of a book of Venturist Essays which had lately been 
much read and talked of in London. 

Then, irritated more and more by Lord Maxwell's 
gentle attention, and the interjections he threw in 
from time to time, she plunged into history, attacked 
the landowning class, spoke of the Statute of Labour- 
ers, the Law of Settlement, the New Poor-Law, and 
other great matters, all in the same quick flow of 
glancing, picturesque speech, and all with the same 
utter oblivion so it seemed to her stiff, indignant 
hostess at the other end of the table of the manners 
and modesty proper to a young girl in a strange house, 
and that young girl Richard Boyce's daughter ! 

Aldous struck in now and then, trying to soothe 
her by supporting her to a certain extent, and. so di- 
vert the conversation. But Marcella was soon too 
excited to be managed ; and she had her say ; a very 
strong say often as far as language went : there could 
be no doubt of that. 

'Ah, well/ said Lord Maxwell, wincing at last 
under some of her phrases, in spite of his courteous 
savoir-faire, 'I see you are of the same opinion as 
a good man whose book I took up yesterday: "The 
landlords of England have always shown a mean and 
malignant passion for profiting by the miseries of 
others"? Well, Aldous, my boy, we are judged, you 
and I no help for it!' 

The man whose temper and rule had made the 
prosperity of a whole country-side for nearly forty 
years, looked at his grandson with twinkling eyes. 
[ 176 ] 


Miss Raeburn was speechless. Lady Winterbourne 
was absently staring at Marcella, a spot of red on 
each pale cheek. 

Then Marcella suddenly wavered, looked across at 
Aldous, and broke down. 

'Of course, you think me very ridiculous/ she said, 
with a tremulous change of tone. 'I suppose I am. 
And I am as inconsistent as anybody I hate my- 
self for it. Very often when anybody talks to me on 
the other side, I am almost as much persuaded as I 
am by the Socialists : they always told me in London 
I was the prey of the last speaker. But it can't make 
any difference to one's feeling: nothing touches that/ 

She turned to Lord Maxwell, half-appealing 

' It is when I go down from our house to the village ; 
when I see the places the people live in; when one is 
comfortable in the carriage, and one passes some 
woman in the rain, ragged and dirty and tired, trudg- 
ing back from her work ; when one realises that they 
have no rights when they come to be old, nothing to 
look to but charity, for which we, who have every- 
thing, expect them to be grateful; and when I know 
that every one of them has done more useful work in 
a year of their life than I shall ever do in the whole of 
mine, then I feel that the whole state of things is 
somehow wrong and topsy-turvy and wicked.' Her 
voice rose a little, every emphasis grew more passion- 
ate. 'And if I don't do something the little such 
a person as I can to alter it before I die, I might as 
well never have lived.' 

Everybody at table started. Lord Maxwell looked 
at Miss Raeburn, his mouth twitching over the hum- 
[ 177 ] 


our of his sister's dismay. Well ! this was a forcible 
young woman : was Aldous the kind of man to be able 
to deal conveniently with such eyes, such emotions, 
such a personality? 

Suddenly Lady Winterbourne's deep voice broke in : 

' I never could say it half so well as that, Miss Boyce ; 
but I agree with you. I may say that I have agreed 
with you all my life.' 

The girl turned to her, grateful and quivering. 

'At the same time/ said Lady Winterbourne, re- 
lapsing with a long breath from tragic emphasis into 
a fluttering indecision equally characteristic, 'as you 
say, one is inconsistent. I was poor once, before 
Edward came to the title, and I did not at all like it - 
not at all. And I don't wish my daughters to marry 
poor men; and what I should do without a maid or 
a carriage when I wanted it, I cannot imagine. Edward 
makes the most of these things. He tells me I have 
to choose between things as they are, and a graduated 
income tax which would leave nobody not even the 
richest more than four hundred a year/ 

'Just enough for one of those little houses on your 
station road/ said Lord Maxwell, laughing at her. 
'I think you might still have a maid/ 

'There, you laugh/ said Lady Winterbourne, ve- 
hemently: 'the men do. But I tell you it is no 
laughing matter to feel that your heart and conscience 
have gone over to the enemy. You want to feel with 
your class, and you can't. Think of what used to 
happen in the old days. My grandmother, who was 
as good and kind a woman as ever lived, was driving 
home through our village one evening, and a man 
[ 178 ] 


passed her, a labourer who was a little drunk, and 
who did not take off his hat to her. She stopped, 
made her men get down and had him put in the 
stocks there and then the old stocks were still stand- 
ing on the village green. Then she drove home to her 
dinner, and said her prayers no doubt that night with 
more consciousness than usual of having done her 
duty. But if the power of the stocks still remained to 
us, my dear friend/ and she laid her thin old 
woman's hand, flashing with diamonds, on Lord 
Maxwell's arm, 'we could no longer do it, you or I. 
We have lost the sense of right in our place and posi- 
tion at least I find I have. In the old days if there 
was social disturbance the upper class could put it 
down with a strong hand/ 

'So they would still/ said Lord Maxwell, dryly, 'if 
there were violence. Once let it come to any real 
attack on property, and you will see where all these 
Socialist theories will be. And of course it will not be 
we not the landowners or the capitalists who will 
put it down. It will be the hundreds and thousands 
of people with something to lose a few pounds in a 
joint-stock mill, a house of their own built through 
a cooperative store, an acre or two of land stocked by 
their own savings it is they, I am afraid, who will 
put Miss Boyce's friends down so far as they represent 
any real attack on property and brutally, too, I 
fear, if need be/ 

'I dare say/ exclaimed Marcella, her colour rising 
again. 'I never can see how we Socialists are to suc- 
ceed. But how can any one re/oice in it? How can any 
one wish that the present state of things should go on? 
[ 179 ] 


Oh ! the horrors one sees in London. And down here, 
the cottages, and the starvation wages, and the ri- 
diculous worship of game, and then, of course, the 
poaching - 

Miss Raeburn pushed back her chair with a sharp 
noise. But her brother was still peeling his pear, and 
no one else moved. Why did he let such talk go on? 
It was too unseemly. 

Lord Maxwell only laughed. 'My dear young lady/ 
he said, much amused, 'are you even in the frame of 
mind to make a hero of a poacher? Disillusion lies 
that way ! it does indeed. Why Aldous ! I have 
been hearing such tales from Westall this morning. 
I stopped at Corbett's farm a minute or two on 
the way home, and met Westall at the gate coming 
out. He says he and his men are being harried to 
death round about Tudley End by a gang of men that 
come, he thinks, from Oxford, a driving gang with 
a gig, who come at night or in the early morning - 
the smartest rascals out, impossible to catch. But 
he says he thinks he will soon have his hand on the 
local accomplice a Mellor man a man named 
Kurd: not one of our labourers, I think/ 

'Hurd!' cried Marcella, in dismay. 'Oh no, it can't 
be impossible!' 

Lord Maxwell looked at her in astonishment. 

'Do you know any Hurds? I am afraid your father 
will find that Mellor is a bad place for poaching/ 

'If it is, it is because they are so starved and miser- 
able/ said Marcella, trying hard to speak coolly, but 
excited almost beyond bounds by the conversation 
and all that it implied. 'And the Hurds I don't 
[ 180 ] 


believe it a bit ! But if it were true oh ! they have 
been in such straits they were out of work most of 
last winter; they are out of work now. No one could 
grudge them. I told you about them, did n't I?' she 
said, suddenly glancing at Aldous. ' I was going to ask 
you to-day, if you could help them?' Her prophetess 
air had altogether left her. She felt ready to cry ; and 
nothing could have been more womanish than her tone. 

He bent across to her. Miss Raeburn, invaded by 
a new and intolerable sense of calamity, could have 
beaten him for what she read in his shining eyes, and 
in the flush on his usually pale cheek. 

'Is he still out of work?' he said. 'And you are un- 
happy about it? But I am sure we can find him work : 
I am just now planning improvements at the north 
end of the park. We can take him on ; I am certain of 
it. You must give me his full name and address. 1 

'And let him beware of Westall,' said Lord Max- 
well, kindly. 'Give him a hint, Miss Boyce, and no- 
body will rake up bygones. There is nothing I dislike 
so much as rows about the shooting. All the keepers 
know that.' 

'And of course/ said Miss Raeburn, coldly, 'if the 
family are in real distress there are plenty of people 
at hand to assist them. The man need not steal.' 

'Oh, charity!' cried Marcella, her lip curling. 

'A worse crime than poaching, you think,' said Lord 
Maxwell, laughing. 'Well, these are big subjects. I 
confess, after my morning with the lunatics, I am half- 
inclined, like Horace Walpole, to think everything 
serious ridiculous. At any rate shall we see what light a 
cup of coffee throws upon it ? Agneta, shall we adjourn ? ' 


-LoRD MAXWELL closed the drawing-room door behind 
Aldous and Marcella. Aldous had proposed to take 
their guest to see the picture-gallery, which was on 
the first floor, and had found her willing. 

The old man came back to the two other women, 
running his hand nervously through his shock of white 
hair a gesture which Miss Raeburn well knew to 
show some disturbance of mind. 

'I should like to have your opinion of that young 
lady/ he said deliberately, taking a chair immediately 
in front of them. 

'I like her/ said Lady Winterbourne, instantly. 'Of 
course she is crude and extravagant, and does not 
know quite what she may say. But all that will 
improve. I like her, and shall make friends with 

Miss Raeburn threw up her hands in angry amaze- 

'Most forward, conceited, and ill-mannered/ she 
said with energy. 'I am certain she has no proper 
principles, and as to what her religious views may be, 
I dread to think of them ! If that is a specimen of the 
girls of the present day - 

'My dear/ interrupted Lord Maxwell, laying a hand 

on her knee, 'Lady Winterbourne is an old friend, a 

very old friend. I think we may be frank before her, 

and I don't wish you to say things you may regret. 

[ 182 ] 


Aldous has made up his mind to get that girl to marry 
him, if he can/ 

Lady Winterbourne was silent, having in fact been 
forewarned by that odd little interview with Aldous 
in her own drawing-room, when he had suddenly 
asked her to call on Mrs. Boyce. But she looked at 
Miss Raeburn. That lady took up her knitting, laid 
it down again, resumed it, then broke out 

'How did it come about? Where have they been 

'At the Hardens mostly. He seems to have been 
struck from the beginning, and now there is no 
question as to his determination. But she may not 
have him; he professes to be still entirely in the 

'Oh!' cried Miss Raeburn, with a scornful shrug, 
meant to express all possible incredulity. Then she 
began to knit fast and furiously, and presently said 
in great agitation 

'What can he be thinking of? She is very handsome, 
of course, but ' then her words failed her. 'When 
Aldous remembers his mother, how can he? undis- 
ciplined ! self-willed ! Why, she laid down the law to 
you, Henry, as though you had nothing to do but 
to take your opinions from a chit of a girl like her. 
Oh! no, no; I really can't; you must give me time. 
And her father the disgrace and trouble of it ! 
I tell you, Henry, it will bring misfortune!' 

Lord Maxwell was much troubled. Certainly he 

should have talked to Agneta beforehand. But the 

fact was he had his cowardice, like other men, and he 

had been trusting to the girl herself, to this beauty 

[ 183 ] 


he heard so much of, to soften the first shock of the 
matter to the present mistress of the Court. 

'We will hope not, Agneta/ he said, gravely. 'We 
will hope not. But you must remember Aldous is no 
boy. I cannot coerce him. I see the difficulties, 
and I have put them before him. But I am more 
favourably struck with the girl than you are. And 
anyway, if it comes about, we must make the best 
of it.' 

Miss Raeburn made no answer, but pretended to 
set her heel, her needles shaking. Lady Winterbourne 
was very sorry for her two old friends. 

'Wait a little/ she said, laying her hand lightly on 
Miss Raeburn 's. 'No doubt with her opinions she felt 
specially drawn to assert herself to-day. One can 
imagine it very well of a girl, and a generous girl in 
her position. You will see other sides of her, I am 
sure you will. And you would never you could 
never make a breach with Aldous/ 

'We must all remember/ said Lord Maxwell, getting 
up and beginning to walk up and down beside them, 
'that Aldous is in no way dependent upon me. He 
has his own resources. He could leave us to-morrow. 
Dependent on me! It is the other way, I think, 
Agneta don't you?' 

He stopped and looked at her and she returned his 
look in spite of herself. A tear dropped on her stocking 
which she hastily brushed away. 

'Come, now/ said Lord Maxwell, seating himself; 
'let us talk it over rationally. Don't go, Lady Winter- 

'Why, they may be settling it at this moment/ 
[ 184 ] 


cried Miss Raeburn, half -choked, and feeling as though 
'the skies were impious not to fall.' 

'No, no!' he said, smiling. 'Not yet, I think. But 
let us prepare ourselves/ 

Meanwhile the cause of all this agitation was sitting 
languidly in a great Louis Quinze chair in the picture- 
gallery upstairs, with Aldous beside her. She had 
taken off her big hat as though it oppressed her, and 
her black head lay against a corner of the chair in 
fine contrast to its mellowed golds and crimsons. Op- 
posite to her were two famous Holbein portraits, at 
which she looked from time to time as though attracted 
to them in spite of herself, by some trained sense 
which could not be silenced. But she was not com- 
municative, and Aldous was anxious. 

'Do you think I was rude to your grandfather?' 
she asked him at last abruptly, cutting dead short 
some information she had stiffly asked him for just 
before, as to the date of the gallery and its collection. 

'Rude! 'he said, startled. 'Not at all. Not in the 
least. Do you suppose we are made of such brittle 
stuff, we poor landowners, that we can't stand an 
argument now and then?' 

'Your aunt thought I was rude,' she said, unheeding. 
' I think I was. But a house like this excites me.' And 
with a little reckless gesture she turned her head over 
her shoulder and looked down the gallery. A Velasquez 
was beside her ; a great Titian over the way ; a price- 
less Rembrandt beside it. On her right hand stood a 
chair of carved steel, presented by a German town to 
a German emperor, which had not its equal in Europe; 
[ 185 ] 


the brocade draping the deep windows in front of her 
had been specially made to grace a state visit to the 
house of Charles II. 

'At Mellor,' she went on, 'we are old and tumble- 
down. The rain comes in ; there are no shutters to the 
big hall, and we can't afford to put them we can't 
afford even to have the pictures cleaned. I can pity 
the house and nurse it, as I do the village. But here - 

And looking about her, she gave a significant shrug. 

' What our feathers again ! ' he said, laughing. 
'But consider. Even you allow that Socialism cannot 
begin to-morrow. There must be a transition time, 
and clearly till the State is ready to take over the 
historical houses and their contents, the present nom- 
inal owners of them are bound, if they can, to take 
care of them. Otherwise the State will be some day 

She could not be insensible to the charm of his 
manner towards her. There was in it, no doubt, the 
natural force and weight of the man older and better 
informed than his companion, and amused every now 
and then by her extravagance. But even her irritable 
pride could not take offence. For the intellectual dis- 
sent she felt at bottom was tempered by a moral sym- 
pathy of which the gentleness and warmth touched 
and moved her in spite of herself. And now that they 
were alone he could express himself. So long as they 
had been in company he had seemed to her, as often 
before, shy, hesitating, and ineffective. But with the 
disappearance of spectators, who represented to him, 
no doubt, the harassing claim of the critical judge- 
ment, all was freer, more assured, more natural. 
[ 186 ] 


She leant her chin on her hand, considering his plea. 

'Supposing you live long enough to see the State 
take it, shall you be able to reconcile yourself to it? 
Or shall you feel it a wrong, and go out a rebel?' 

A delightful smile was beginning to dance in the 
dark eyes. She was recovering the tension of her talk 
with Lord Maxwell. 

'All must depend, you see, on the conditions on 
how you and your friends are going to manage the 
transition. You may persuade me conceivably or 
you may eject me with violence/ 

'Oh no!' she interposed, quickly. 'There will be no 
violence. Only we shall gradually reduce your wages. 
Of course, we can't do without leaders we don't 
want to do away with the captains of any industry, 
agricultural or manufacturing. Only we think you 
overpaid. You must be content with less/ 

'Don't linger out the process,' he said, laughing, 
'otherwise it will be painful. The people who are con- 
demned to live in these houses before the Commune 
takes to them, while your graduated land and income 
taxes are slowly starving them out, will have a bad 
time of it.' 

'Well, it will be your first bad time! Think of the 
labourer now, with five children, of school age, on 
twelve shillings a week think of the sweated women 
in London.' 

'Ah, think of them,' he said, in a different tone. 

There was a pause of silence. 

'No!' said Marcella, springing up. 'Don't let's 
think of them. I get to believe the whole thing a pose 
in myself and other people. Let's go back to the 
[ 187 ] 


pictures. Do you think Titian " sweated " his drapery 
men paid them starvation rates, and grew rich on 
their labour? Very likely. All the same, that blue 
woman' - - she pointed to a bending Magdalen 'will 
be a joy to all time/ 

They wandered through the gallery, and she was 
now all curiosity, pleasure, and intelligent interest, 
as though she had thrown off an oppression. Then 
they emerged into the upper corridor answering to 
the corridor of the antiques below. This also was 
hung with pictures, principally family portraits of 
the second order, dating back to the Tudors a fine 
series of berobed and bejewelled personages, wherein 
clothes predominated and character was unimportant. 

Marcella's eye was glancing along the brilliant 
colour of the wall, taking rapid note of jewelled necks 
surmounting stiff, embroidered dresses, of the white- 
ness of lace ruffs, or the love-locks and gleaming 
satin of the Caroline beauties, when it suddenly oc- 
curred to her 

'I shall be their successor. This is already poten- 
tially mine. In a few months, if I please, I shall be 
walking this house as mistress its future mistress, 
at any rate!' 

She was conscious of a quickening in the blood, a 
momentary blurring of the vision. A whirlwind of 
fancies swept across her. She thought of herself as the 
young peeress Lord Maxwell after all was over 
seventy her own white neck blazing with diamonds, 
the historic jewels of a great family her will making 
law in this splendid house in the great domain sur- 
rounding it. What power what a position what 

[ 188 ] 


a romance! She, the out-at-elbows Marcella, the 
Socialist, the friend of the people. What new lines of 
social action and endeavour she might strike out] 
Miss Raeburn should not stop her. She caressed the 
thought of the scandals in store for that lady. Only it 
annoyed her that her dream of large things should be 
constantly crossed by this foolish delight, making her 
feet dance in this mere prospect of satin gowns 
and fine jewels of young and feted beauty holding 
its brilliant court. If she made such a marriage, it 
should be, it must be, on public grounds. Her friends 
must have no right to blame her. 

Then she stole a glance at the tall, quiet gentleman 
beside her. A man to be proud of from the beginning, 
and surely to be very fond of in time. 'He would 
always be my friend/ she thought, 'I could lead him. 
He is very clever, one can see, and knows a great deal. 
But he admires what I like. His position hampers him 
- but I could help him to get beyond it. We might 
show the way to many!' 

'Will you come and see this room here?' he said, 
stopping suddenly, yet with a certain hesitation in. 
the voice. ' It is my own sitting-room. There are one 
or two portraits I should like to show you if you would 
let me/ 

She followed him with a rosy cheek, and they were 
presently standing in front of the portrait of his 
mother. He spoke of his recollections of his parents, 
quietly and simply, yet she felt through every nerve 
that he was not the man to speak of such things to 
anybody in whom he did not feel a very strong and 
peculiar interest. As he was talking, a rush of liking 
[ 189 ] 


towards him came across her. How good he was 
how affectionate beneath his reserve a woman 
might securely trust him with her future. 

So with every minute she grew softer, her eye 
gentler, and with each step and word he seemed to 
himself to be carried deeper into the current of joy. 
Intoxication was mounting within him, as her slim, 
warm youth moved and breathed beside him ; and it 
was natural that he should read her changing be- 
haviour for something other than it was. A man of his 
type asks for no advance from the woman ; the woman 
he loves does not make them ; but at the same time he 
has a natural self-esteem, and believes readily in his 
power to win the return he is certain he will deserve. 

'And this?' she said, moving restlessly towards his 
table, and taking up the photograph of Edward 

'Ah ! that is the greatest friend I have in the world. 
But I am sure you know the name. Mr. Hallin - 
Edward Hallin/ 

She paused bewildered. 

'What! the Mr. Hallin that was Edward Hallin - 
who settled the Nottingham strike last month who 
lectures so much in the East End, and in the North?' 

'The same. We are old college friends. I owe him 
much, and in all his excitements he does not forget old 
friends. There, you see' - - and he opened a blotting- 
book and pointed smiling to some closely written 
sheets lying within it 'is my last letter to him. I 
often write two of those in the week, and he to me. 
We don't agree on a number of things, but that 
does n't matter/ 

[ 190 ] 


'What can you find to write about?' she said, won- 
dering. 'I thought nobody wrote letters nowadays, 
only notes. Is it books, or people?' 

'Both, when it pleases us!' How soon, oh! ye 
favouring gods, might he reveal to her the part she 
herself played in those closely covered sheets? 'But 
he writes to me on social matters chiefly. His whole 
heart, as you probably know, is in certain experi- 
ments and reforms in which he sometimes asks me to 
help him/ 

Marcella opened her eyes. These were new lights. 
She began to recall all that she had heard of young Hal- 
lin's position in the Labour Movement; his personal 
magnetism and prestige ; his power as a speaker. Her 
Socialist friends, she remembered, thought him in the 
way a force, but a dangerous one. He was for the 
follies of compromise could not be got to disavow 
the principle of private property, while ready to go 
great lengths in certain directions towards collective 
action and corporate control. The 'stalwarts' of her 
sect would have none of him as a leader, while ad- 
mitting his charm as a human being a charm she 
remembered to have heard discussed with some anx- 
iety among her Venturist friends. But for ordinary 
people he went far enough. Her father, she remem- 
bered, had dubbed him an 'Anarchist' in connexion 
with the terms he had been able to secure for the 
Nottingham strikers, as reported in the newspapers. 
It astonished her to come across the man again as Mr. 
Raeburn's friend. 

They talked about Hallin a little, and about Aldous's 
Cambridge acquaintance with him. Then Marcella, 


still nervous, went to look at the bookshelves, and 
found herself in front of that working collection of 
books on economics which Aldous kept in his own 
room under his hand, by way of guide to the very fine 
special collection he was gradually making in the 
library downstairs. 

Here again were surprises for her. Aldous had never 
made the smallest claim to special knowledge on all 
those subjects she had so often insisted on making him 
discuss. He had been always tentative and diffident, 
deferential even so far as her own opinions were con- 
cerned. And here already was the library of a student. 
All the books she had ever read- or heard discussed 
were here and as few among many. The condition 
of them, moreover, the signs of close and careful read- 
ing she noticed in them, as she took them out, abashed 
her : she had never learnt to read in this way. It was 
her first contact with an exact and arduous cul- 
ture. She thought of how she had instructed Lord 
Maxwell at luncheon. No doubt he shared his 
grandson's interests. Her cheek burned anew; this 
time because it seemed to her that she had been 

'I don't know why you never told me you took a 
particular interest in these subjects/ she said suddenly, 
turning round upon him resentfully. she had just 
laid down, of all things, a volume of Venturist essays. 
'You must have thought I talked a great deal of non- 
sense at luncheon/ 

'Why! I have always been delighted to find you 
cared for such things and took an interest in them. 
How few women do!' he said, quite simply, opening 

[ 192 ] 


his eyes. 'Do you know these three pamphlets? 
They were privately printed, and are very rare/ 

He took out a book and showed it to her as one does 
to a comrade and equal as he might have done to 
Edward Hallin. But something was jarred in her 
conscience or self-esteem and she could not recover 
her sense of heroineship. She answered absently, and 
when he returned the book to the shelf she said that 
it was time for her to go, and would he kindly ask for 
her maid, who was to walk with her? 

'I will ring for her directly/ he said. 'But you will 
let me take you home?' Then he added hurriedly, 
' I have some business this afternoon with a man who 
lives in your direction/ 

She assented a little stiffly but with an inward 
thrill. His words and manner seemed suddenly to 
make the situation unmistakeable. Among the books 
it had been for the moment obscured. 

He rang for his own servant, and gave directions 
about the maid. Then they went downstairs that 
Marcella might say good-bye. 

Miss Raeburn bade her guest farewell, with a dignity 
which her small person could sometimes assume, not 
unbecomingly. Lady Winterbourne held the girl's 
hand a little, looked her out of countenance, and in- 
sisted on her promising again to come to Winterbourne 
Park the following Tuesday. Then Lord Maxwell, with 
old-fashioned politeness, made Marcella take his arm 
through the hall. 

'You must come and see us again/ he said, smiling; 
'though we are such belated old Tories, we are not so 
bad as we sound/ 

[ 193 ] 


And under cover of his mild banter he fixed a pene- 
trating attentive look upon her. Flushed and em- 
barrassed ! Had it indeed been done already? or would 
Aldous settle it on this walk? To judge from his 
manner and hers, the thing was going with rapidity. 
Well, well, there was nothing for it but to hope for the 

On their way through the hall she stopped him, her 
hand still in his arm. Aldous was in front, at the door, 
looking for a light shawl she had brought with her. 

'I should like to thank you/ she said, shyly, 'about 
the Hurds. It will be very kind of you and Mr. Rae- 
burn to find them work/ 

Lord Maxwell was pleased; and with the usual 
unfair advantage of beauty her eyes and curving lips 
gave her little advance a charm infinitely beyond what 
any plainer woman could have commanded. 

'Oh, don't thank me!' he said, cheerily. 'Thank 
Aldous. He does all that kind of thing. And if in your 
good works you want any help we can give, ask it, my 
dear young lady. My old comrade's granddaughter 
will always find friends in this house/ 

Lord Maxwell would have been very much aston- 
ished to hear himself making this speech six weeks 
before. As it was, he handed her over gallantly to 
Aldous, and stood on the steps looking after them in 
a stir of mind not unnoted by the confidential butler 
who held the door open behind him. Would Aldous 
insist on carrying his wife off to the dower house on the 
other side of the estate? or would they be content to 
stay in the old place with the old people? And if so, 
how were that girl and his sister to get oh? As for 
[ 194 ] 


himself, he was of a naturally optimist temper, and 
ever since the night of his first interview with Aldous 
on the subject, he had been more and more inclining 
to take a cheerful view. He liked to see a young 
creature of such evident character and cleverness 
holding opinions and lines of her own. It was infinitely 
better than mere nonentity. Of course, she was now 
extravagant and foolish, perhaps vain too. But that 
would mend with time mend, above all, with her 
position as Aldous 's wife. Aldous was a strong man 
how strong, Lord Maxwell suspected that this impetu- 
ous young lady hardly knew. No, he thought the 
family might be trusted to cope with her when once 
they got her among them. And she would certainly 
be an ornament to the old house. 

Her father of course was, and would be, the real 
difficulty, and the blight which had descended on the 
once honoured name. But a man so conscious of many 
kinds of power as Lord Maxwell could not feel much 
doubt as to his own and his grandson's competence 
to keep so poor a specimen of humanity as Richard 
Boyce in his place. How wretchedly ill, how feeble, 
both in body and soul, the fellow had looked when he 
and Winterbourne met him! 

The white-haired owner of the Court walked back 
slowly to his library, his hands in his pockets, his head 
bent in cogitation. Impossible to settle to the various 
important political letters lying on his table, and 
bearing all of them on that approaching crisis in the 
spring which must put Lord Maxwell and his friends 
in power. He was over seventy, but his old blood 
quickened within him as he thought of those two on 
[ 195 J 


this golden afternoon, among the beech woods. How 
late Aldous had left all these experiences ! His grand- 
father, by twenty, could have shown him the way. 

Meanwhile the two in question were walking along 
the edge of the hill rampart overlooking the plain, with 
the road on one side of them, and the falling beech 
woods on the other. They were on a woodland path, 
just within the trees, sheltered, and to all intents and 
purposes alone. The maid, with leisurely discretion, 
was following far behind them on the highroad. 

Marcella, who felt at moments as though she could 
hardly breathe, by reason of a certain tumult of nerve, 
was yet apparently bent on maintaining a conversa- 
tion without breaks. As they diverged from the road 
into the wood-path, she plunged into the subject of 
her companion's election prospects. How many meet- 
ings did he find that he must hold in the month? What 
places did he regard as his principal strongholds? 
She was told that certain villages, which she named, 
were certain to go Radical, whatever might be the 
Tory promises. As to a well-known Conservative 
League, which was very strong in the country, and to 
which all the great ladies, including Lady Winter- 
bourne, belonged, was he actually going to demean 
himself by accepting its support? How was it possible 
to defend the bribery, buns, and beer by which it won 
its corrupting way? 

Altogether, a quick fire of questions, remarks, and 

sallies, which Aldous met and parried as best he 

might, comforting himself all the time by thought of 

those deeper and lonelier parts of the wood which lay 

[ 196 ] 


before them. At last she dropped out, half -laughing, 
half -defiant, words which arrested him 

'Well, I shall know what the other side think of 
their prospects very soon. Mr. Wharton is coming to 
lunch with us to-morrow/ 

'Harry Wharton!' he said, astonished. 'But Mr. 
Boyce is not supporting him. Your father, I think, is 

One of Dick Boyce's first acts as owner of Mellor, 
when social rehabilitation had still looked probable to 
him, had been to send a contribution to the funds of 
the League aforesaid, so that Aldous had public and 
conspicuous grounds for his remark. 

'Need one measure everything by politics?' she 
asked him, a little disdainfully. 'Mayn't one even 
feed a Radical?' 

He winced visibly a moment, touched in his philo- 
sopher's pride. 

'You remind me,' he said, laughing and reddening 

-'and justly that an election perverts all one's 
standards and besmirches all one's morals. Then I 
suppose Mr. Wharton is an old friend?' 

'Papa never saw him before last week,' she said, 
carelessly. 'Now he talks of asking him to stay some 
time, and says that, although he won't vote for him, 
he hopes that he will make a good fight.' 

Raeburn's brow contracted in a puzzled frown. 

'He will make an excellent fight,' he said, rather 
shortly. 'Dodgson hardly hopes to get in. Harry 
Wharton is a most taking speaker, a very clever 
fellow, and sticks at nothing in the way of promises. 
Ah, you will find him interesting, Miss Boyce ! He has 
[ 197 ] 


a co-operative farm on his Lincolnshire property. Last 
year he started a Labour paper which I believe you 
read. I have heard you quote it. He believes in all 
that you hope for great increase in local govern- 
ment and communal control the land for the people 
graduated income tax the extinction of land- 
lord and capitalist as soon as may be e tutti quanti. 
He talks with great eloquence and ability. In our 
villages I find he is making way every week. The 
people think his manners perfect. '"Ee 'as a way wi 
un," said an old labourer to me last week. "If 'ee wor 
to coe the wild birds, I do believe, Muster Raeburn, 
they'd coom to un!" ' 

'Yet you dislike him!' said Marcella, a daring smile 
dancing on the dark face she turned to him. 'One 
can hear it in every word you say.' 

He hesitated, trying, even at the moment that an 
impulse of jealous alarm which astonished himself had 
taken possession of him, to find the moderate and 
measured phrase. 

'I have known him from a boy,' he said. 'He is a 
connexion of the Levens, and used to be always there 
in old days. He is very brilliant and very gifted - 

'Your "but must be very bad,'" she threw in, 'it is 
so long in coming.' 

'Then I will say, whatever opening it gives you,' he 
replied with spirit, 'that I admire him without respect- 
ing him.' 

'Who ever thought otherwise of a clever opponent?' 
she cried. 'It is the stock formula.' 

The remark stung, all the more because Aldous 
was perfectly conscious that there was much truth in 

[ 198 ] 


her implied charge of prejudice. He had never been 
very capable of seeing this particular man in the dry 
light of reason, and was certainly less so than before, 
since it had been revealed to him that Wharton and 
Mr. Boyce's daughter were to be brought, before long, 
into close neighbourhood. 

'I am sorry that I seem to you such a Pharisee/ he 
said, turning upon her a look which had both pain and 
excitement in it. 

She was silent, and they walked on a few yards 
without speaking. The wood had thickened around 
them. The highroad was no longer visible. No sound 
of wheels or footsteps reached them. The sun struck 
freely through the beech trees, already half-bared, 
whitening the grey trunks at intervals to an arrowy 
distinctness and majesty, or kindling the slopes of red 
and freshly fallen leaves below into great patches of 
light and flame. Through the stems, as always, the 
girdling blues of the plain, and in their faces a gay 
and buoyant breeze, speaking rather of spring than 
autumn. Robins, 'yellow autumn's nightingales/ 
sang in the hedge to their right. In the pause between 
them, sun, wind, birds made their charm felt. Nature, 
perpetual chorus as she is to man, stole in, urging, 
wooing, defining. Aldous's heart leapt to the spur of 
a sudden resolve. 

Instinctively she turned to him at the same moment 
as he to her, and seeing his look she paled a little. 

'Do you guess at all why it hurts me to jar with 

you?' he said finding his words in a rush, he did not 

know how 'why every syllable of yours matters to 

me? It is because I have hopes dreams which 

[ 199 ] 


have become my life ! If you could accept this this 
feeling this devotion which has grown up in 
me if you could trust yourself to me you should 
have no cause, I think ever to think me hard or 
narrow towards any person, any enthusiasm for which 
you had sympathy. May I say to you all that is in my 
mind or or am I presuming?' 

She looked away from him, crimson again. A great 
wave of exultation boundless, intoxicating swept 
through her. Then it was checked by a nobler feeling 
- a quick, penitent sense of his nobleness. 

'You don't know me/ she said, hurriedly: 'you 
think you do. But I am all odds and ends. I should 
annoy wound disappoint you/ 

His quiet grey eyes flamed. 

'Come and sit down here, on these dry roots/ he 
said, taking already joyous command of her. 'We 
shall be undisturbed. I have so much to say 1 / 

She obeyed trembling. She felt no passion, but the 
strong thrill of something momentous and irreparable, 
together with a swelling pride pride in such homage 
from such a man. 

He led her a few steps down the slope, found a 
place for her against a sheltering trunk, and threw 
himself down beside her. As he looked up at the 
picture she made amid the autumn branches, at her 
bent head, her shy, moved look, her white hand lying 
ungloved on her black dress, happiness overcame him. 
He took her hand, found she did not resist, drew it to 
him, and clasping it in both his, bent his brow, his lips 
upon it. It shook in his hold, but she was passive. 
The mixture of emotion and self-control she showed 
[ 200 ] 


touched him deeply. In his chivalrous modesty he 
asked for nothing else, dreamt of nothing more. 

Half an hour later they were still in the same spot. 
There had been much talk between them, most of it 
earnest, but some of it quite gay, broken especially by 
her smiles. Her teasing mood, however, had passed 
away. She was instead composed and dignified, like 
one conscious that life had opened before her to great 

Yet she had flinched often before that quiet tone of 
eager joy in which he had described his first impres- 
sions of her, his surprise at finding in her ideals, re- 
volts, passions, quite unknown to him, so far, in the 
women of his own class. Naturally he suppressed, 
perhaps he had even forgotten, l^ie critical amuse- 
ment and irritation she had often excited in him. He 
remembered, he spoke only of sympathy, delight, 
pleasure of his sense, as it were, of slaking some 
long-felt moral thirst at the well of her fresh feeling. 
So she had attracted him first by a certain strange- 
ness and daring by what she said 

'Now and above all by what you are!' he broke 
out suddenly, moved out of his even speech. 'Oh! it 
is too much to believe to dream of! Put your 
hand in mine, and say again that it is really true 
that we two are to go forward together that you 
will be always there to inspire to help - 

And as she gave him the hand, she must also let him 

- in this first tremor of a pure passion take the kiss 

which was now his by right. That she should flush 

and draw away from him as she did, seemed to him 

[ 201 ] 


the most natural thing in the world, and the most 

Then, as their talk wandered on, bit by bit, he 
gave her all his confidence, and she had felt herself 
honoured in receiving it. She understood now at least 
something a first fraction of that inner life, 
masked so well beneath his quiet English capacity 
and unassuming manner. He had spoken of his Cam- 
bridge years, of his friend, of the desire of his heart 
to make his landowner's power and position contrib- 
ute something towards that new and better social 
order, which he too, like Hallin though more faintly 
and intermittently believed to be approaching. The 
difficulties of any really new departure were tremen- 
dous; he saw them more plainly and more anxiously 
than Hallin. Yet tye believed that he had thought his 
way. to some effective reform on his grandfather's 
large estate, and to some useful work as one of a group 
of like-minded men in Parliament. She must have 
often thought him careless and apathetic towards his 
great trust. But he was not so not careless but 
paralysed often by intellectual difficulty, by the claims 
of conflicting truths. 

She, too, explained herself most freely, most frankly. 
She would have nothing on her conscience. 

'They will say, of course/ she said, with sudden 
nervous abruptness, 'that I am marrying you for 
wealth and position. And in a sense I shall be. No ! 
don't stop me! I should not marry you if if I 
did not like you. But you can give me you have - 
great opportunities. I tell you frankly, I shall enjoy 
them and use them. Oh ! do think well before you do 
[ 202 ] 


it. I shall never be a meek, dependent wife. A woman, 
to my mind, is bound to cherish her own individuality 
sacredly, married or not married. Have you thought 
that I may often think it right to do things you dis- 
agree with, that may scandalise your relations?' 

' You shall be free/ he said steadily. ' I have thought 
of it all/ 

'Then there is my father/ she said, turning her 
head away. 'He is ill he wants pity, affection. I 
will accept no bond that forces me to disown him/ 

'Pity and affection are to me the most sacred things 
in the world/ he said, kissing her hand gently. 'Be 
content be at rest my beautiful lady!' 

There was again silence, full of thought on her 
side, of heavenly happiness on his. The sun had sunk 
almost to the verge of the plain, the wind had 

'We must go home/ she said, springing up. 'Taylor 
must have got there an hour ago. Mother will be 
anxious, and I must I must tell them/ 

'I will leave you at the gate/ he suggested, as they 
walked briskly; 'and you will ask your father, will 
you not, if I may see him to-night after dinner?' 

The trees thinned again in front of them, and the 
path curved inward to the front. Suddenly a man, 
walking on the road, diverged into the path and came 
towards them. He was swinging a stick and humming. 
His head was uncovered, and his light chestnut curls 
were blown about his forehead by the wind. Marcella, 
looking up at the sound of the steps, had a sudden 
impression of something young and radiant, and Al- 
dous stopped with an exclamation. 
[ 203 ] 


The newcomer perceived them, and at sight of 
Aldous smiled, and approached, holding out his hand. 

'Why, Raeburn, I seem to have missed you twenty 
times a day this last fortnight. We have been always 
on each other's tracks without meeting. Yet I think, 
if we had met, we could have kept our tempers/ 

'Miss Boyce, I think you do not know Mr. Whar- 
ton,' said Aldous, stiffly. 'May I introduce you?' 

The young man's blue eyes, all alert and curious at 
the mention of Marcella's name, ran over the girl's 
face and form. Then he bowed with a certain charm- 
ing exaggeration like an eighteenth-century beau 
with his hand upon his heart and turned back with 
them a step or two towards the road. 


' A woman has enough to govern wisely 
Her own demeanours, passions, and divisions.' 


ON a certain night in the December following the 
engagement of Marcella Boyce to Aldous Raeburn, 
the woods and fields of Mellor, and all the bare ram- 
part of chalk down which divides the Buckingham- 
shire plain from the forest upland of the Chilterns lay 
steeped in moonlight, and in the silence which belongs 
to intense frost. 

Winter had set in before the leaf had fallen from the 
last oaks; already there had been a fortnight or more 
of severe cold, with hardly any snow. The pastures 
were delicately white ; the ditches and the wet furrows 
in the ploughed land, the ponds on Mellor Common, 
and the stagnant pool in the midst of the village, 
whence it drew its main water-supply, were frozen 
hard. But the ploughed chalk land itself lay a dull 
grey beside the glitter of the pastures, and the woods 
under the bright sun of the days dropped their rime 
only to pass once more with the deadly cold of the 
night under the fantastic empire of the frost. Every 
day the veil of morning mist rose lightly from the 
woods, uncurtaining the wintry spectacle, and melting 
into the brilliant azure of an unflecked sky; every 
night the moon rose without a breath of wind, without 
a cloud ; and all the branch-work of the trees, where 
they stood in the open fields, lay reflected clean and 
sharp on the whitened ground. The bitter cold stole 
into the cottages, marking the old and feeble with the 
[ 207 ] 


touch of Azrael ; while without, in the field solitudes, 
bird and beast cowered benumbed and starving in 
hole and roosting-place. 

How still it was this midnight on the fringe 
of the woods ! Two men sitting concealed among some 
bushes at the edge of Mr. Boyce's largest cover, and 
bent upon a common errand, hardly spoke to each 
other, so strange and oppressive was the silence. One 
was Jim Kurd ; the other was a labourer, a son of old 
Patton of the almshouses, himself a man of nearly 
sixty, with a small wizened face showing sharp and 
white to-night under his slouched hat. 

They looked out over a shallow cup of treeless land 
to a further bound of wooded hill, ending towards the 
north in a bare bluff of down shining steep under the 
moon. They were in shadow, and so was most of the 
wide dip of land before them; but through a gap to 
their right, beyond the wood, the moonbeams poured, 
and the farms nestling under the opposite ridge, the 
plantations ranging along it, and the bald beacon hill 
in which it broke to the plain, were all in radiant light. 

Not a stir of life anywhere. Hurd put up his hand 
to his ear, and leaning forward listened intently. Sud- 
denly a vibration, a dull thumping sound in the 
soil of the bank immediately beside him. He started, 
dropped his hand, and, stooping, laid his ear to the 

'Gi us the bag/ he said to his companion, drawing 
himself upright. 'You can hear 'em turnin and 
creepin as plain as anything. Now then, you take 
these and go t' other side/ 

He handed over a bundle of rabbit-nets. Patton, 
[ 208 ] 


crawling on hands and knees, climbed over the low 
overgrown bank on which the hedge stood into the 
precincts of the wood itself. The state of the hedge, 
leaving the cover practically open and defenceless 
along its whole boundary, showed plainly enough that 
it belonged to the Mellor estate. But the field beyond 
was Lord Maxwell's. 

Kurd applied himself to netting the holes on his 
own side, pushing the brambles and undergrowth 
aside with the sure hand of one who had already re- 
connoitred the ground. Then he crept over to Patton 
to see that all was right on the other side, came back, 
and went for the ferrets, of whom he had four in a 
closely tied bag. 

A quarter of an hour of intense excitement followed. 
In all, five rabbits bolted three on Kurd's side, 
two on Patton 's. It was all the two men could do to 
secure their prey, manage the ferrets, and keep a 
watch on the holes. Hurd's great hands now fixing 
the pegs that held the nets, now dealing death to the 
entangled rabbit, whose neck he broke in an instant 
by a turn of the thumb, now winding up the line that 
held the ferret seemed to be everywhere. 

At last a ferret 'laid up,' the string attached to him 
having either slipped or broken, greatly to the disgust 
of the men, who did not want to be driven either to 
dig, which made a noise and took time, or to lose their 
animal. The rabbits made no more sign, and it was 
tolerably evident that they had got as much as they 
were likely to get out of that particular 'bury.' 

Hurd thrust his arm deep into the hole where he 
had put the ferret. 'Ther's summat in the way/ he 
[ 209 ] 


declared at last. 'Mos' likely a dead un. Gi me the 

He dug away the mouth of the hole, making as little 
noise as possible, and tried again. 

"Ere 'ee be/ he cried, clutching at something, drew 
it out, exclaimed in disgust, flung it away, and pounced 
upon a rabbit which on the removal of the obstacle 
followed like a flash, pursued by the lost ferret. Kurd 
caught the rabbit by the neck, held it by main force, 
and killed it; then put the ferret into his pocket. 
'Lord!' he said, wiping his brow, 'they do come 

What he had pulled out was a dead cat ; a wretched 
puss, who on some happy hunt had got itself wedged 
in the hole, and so perished there miserably. He and 
Patton stooped over it, wondering; then Kurd walked 
some paces along the bank, looking warily out to the 
right of him across the open country all the time. He 
threw the poor malodorous thing far into the wood 
and returned. 

The two men lit their pipes under the shelter of the 
bushes, and rested a bit, well hidden, but able to see 
out through a break in the bit of thicket. 

'Six on 'em/ said Kurd, looking at the stark crea- 
tures beside him. ' I be too done to try another bury. 
I'll set a snare or two, an be off home/ 

Patton puffed silently. He was wondering whether 
Hurd would give him one rabbit or two. Hurd had 
both 'plant' and skill, and Patton would have been 
glad enough to come for one. Still he was a plaintive 
man with a perpetual grievance, and had already made 
up his mind that Hurd would treat him shabbily to- 

[ 210 ] 


night, in spite of many past demonstrations that his 
companion was on the whole of a liberal disposition. 

'You bin out workin a day's work already, han't 
yer?' he said, presently. He himself was out of work, 
like half the village, and had been presented by his 
wife with boiled swede for supper. But he knew that 
Hurd had been taken on at the works at the Court, 
where the new drive was being made, and a piece of 
ornamental water enlarged and improved mainly 
for the sake of giving employment in bad times. He, 
Patton, and some of his mates, had tried to get a job 
there. But the steward had turned them back. The 
men off the estate had first claim, and there was not 
room for all of them. Yet Hurd had been taken on, 
which had set people talking. 

Hurd nodded, and said nothing. He was not dis- 
posed to be communicative on the subject of his em- 
ployment at the Court. 

'An it be true as she be goin to marry Muster* 

Patton jerked his head towards the right, where 
above a sloping hedge the chimneys of Mellor and. 
the tops of the Mellor cedars, some two or three 
fields away, showed distinct against the deep night 

Hurd nodded again, and smoked diligently. Patton, 
nettled by this parsimony of speech, made the inward 
comment that his companion was 'a deep un.' The 
village was perfectly aware of the particular friend- 
ship shown by Miss Boyce to the Kurds. He was 
goaded into trying a more stinging topic. 

'Westall wor braggin last night at BradsellV 


(Bradsell was the landlord of The Green Man at 
Mellor) "ee said as how they'd taken you on at 
the Court but that did n't prevent 'em knowin as 
you was a bad lot. 'Ee said 'ee 'ad 'is eye on yer 
'ee 'ad warned yer twoice last year - 

'That's a lie!' said Kurd, removing his pipe an 
instant and putting it back again. 

Patton looked more cheerful. 

'Well, 'ee spoke cru'l. 'Ee was certain, 'ee said, as 
you could tell a thing or two about them coverts at 
Tudley End, if the treuth were known. You wor allus 
a loafer, an a loafer you'd be. Yer might go snivellin 
to Miss Boyce, 'ee said, but yer would n't do no honest 
work -- 'ee said not if yer could help it that's 
what 'ee said.' 

'Devil!' said Kurd between his teeth, with a quick 
lift of all his great misshapen chest. He took his pipe 
out of his mouth, rammed it down fiercely with his 
thumb, and put it in his pocket. 

'Look out!' exclaimed Patton, with a start. 

A whistle ! clear and distinct from the opposite 
side of the hollow. Then a man's figure, black and 
motionless an instant on the whitened down, with a 
black speck beside it ; lastly, another figure higher up 
along the hill, in quick motion towards the first, with 
other specks behind it. The poachers instantly under- 
stood that it was Westall whose particular beat lay 
in this part of the estate signalling to his night 
watcher, Charlie Dynes, and that the two men would be 
on them in no time. It was the work of a few seconds 
to efface as far as possible the traces of their raid, to 
drag some thick and trailing brambles which hung 
[ 212 ] 


near over the mouth of the hole where there had been 
digging, to catch up the ferrets and game, and to bid 
Kurd's lurcher to come to heel. The two men crawled 
up the ditch with their burdens as far away to leeward 
as they could get from the track by which the keepers 
would cross the field. The ditch was deeply overgrown, 
and when the approaching voices warned them to lie 
close, they crouched under a dense thicket of brambles 
and overhanging bushes, afraid of nothing but the 
noses of the keepers' dogs. 

Dogs and men, however, passed unsuspecting. 

'Hold still!' said Kurd, checking Patton's first at- 
tempt to move. "Ee'll be back again mos like. It's 
'is dodge.' 

And sure enough in twenty minutes or so the men 
reappeared. They retraced their steps from the further 
corner of the field, where some preserves of Lord Max- 
well's approached very closely to the big Mellor wood, 
and came back again along the diagonal path within 
fifty yards or so of the men in the ditch. 

In the stillness the poachers could hear Westall's 
harsh and peremptory voice giving some orders to his 
underling, or calling to the dogs, who had scattered a 
little in the stubble. Kurd's own dog quivered beside 
him once or twice. 

Then steps and voices faded into the distance and 
all was safe. 

The poachers crept out grinning, and watched the 
keepers' progress along the hill-face, till they dis- 
appeared into the Maxwell woods. 

"Ee be sold again blast 'im!' said Kurd, with a 
note of quite disproportionate exultation in his queer, 
[ 213 ] 


cracked voice. 'Now Til set them snares. But you'd 
better git home/ 

Patton took the hint, gave a grunt of thanks as his 
companion handed him two rabbits, which he stowed 
away in the capacious pockets of his poacher's coat, 
and slouched off home by as sheltered and roundabout 
a way as possible. 

Kurd, left to himself, stowed his nets and other 
apparatus in a hidden crevice of the bank, and strolled 
along to set his snares in three hare-runs, well known 
to him, round the further side of the wood. 

Then he waited impatiently for the striking of the 
clock in Mellor Church. The cold was bitter, but his 
night's work was not over yet, and he had had very 
good reasons for getting rid of Patton. 

Almost immediately the bell rang out, the echo roll- 
ing round the bend of the hills in the frosty silence. 
Half-past twelve. Hurd scrambled over the ditch, 
pushed his way through the dilapidated hedge, and 
began to climb the ascent of the wood. The outskirts 
of it were filled with a thin mixed growth of sapling 
and underwood, but the high centre of it was crowned 
by a grove of full-grown beeches, through which the 
moon, now at its height, was playing freely, as Hurd 
clambered upwards amid the dead leaves just freshly 
strewn, as though in yearly festival, about their 
polished trunks. Such infinite grace and strength in the 
line-work of the branches! branches not bent into 
gnarled and unexpected fantasies, like those of the 
oak, but gathered into every conceivable harmony of 
upward curve and sweep, rising all together, black 
against the silvery light, each tree related to and com- 
[ 214 ] 


pleting its neighbour, as though the whole wood, so 
finely rounded on itself and to the hill, were but one 
majestic conception of a master artist. 

But Hurd saw nothing of this as he plunged through 
the leaves. He was thinking that it was extremely 
likely a man would be on the lookout for him to- 
night under the big beeches a man with some busi- 
ness to propose to him. A few words dropped in his 
ear at a certain public-house the night before had 
seemed to him to mean this, and he had accordingly 
sent Patton out of the way. 

But when he got to the top of the hill no one was 
to be seen or heard, and he sat him down on a fallen 
log to smoke and wait a while. 

He had no sooner, however, taken his seat than he 
shifted it uneasily, turning himself round so as to look 
in the other direction. For in front of him, as he was 
first placed, there was a gap in the trees, and over the 
lower wood, plainly visible and challenging attention, 
rose the dark mass of Mellor House. And the sight of 
Mellor suggested reflexions just now that were not 
particularly agreeable to Jim Hurd. 

He had just been poaching Mr. Boyce's rabbits with- 
out any sort of scruple. But the thought of Miss 
Boyce was not pleasant to him when he was out on 
these nightly raids. 

Why had she meddled? He bore her a queer sort of 
grudge for it. He had just settled down to the bit 
of cobbling which, together with his wife's plait, served 
him for a blind, and was full of a secret excitement 
as to various plans he had in hand for 'doing' 
Westall, combining a maximum of gain for the winter 
[ 215 ] 


with a maximum of safety, when Miss Boyce walked in, 
radiant with. the news that there was employment for 
him at the Court, on the new works, whenever he 
liked to go and ask for it. 

And then she had given him an odd look. 

'And I was to pass you on a message from Lord 
Maxwell, Hurd/ she had said : ' "You tell him to keep 
out of Westall's way for the future, and bygones shall 
be bygones/' Now, I'm not going to ask what that 
means. If you've been breaking some of our landlords' 
law, I'm not going to say I'm shocked. I'd alter the 
law to-morrow, if I could ! you know I would. But 
I do say you're a fool if you go on with it, now 
you've got good work for the winter; you must please 
remember your wife and children.' 

And there he had sat like a log, staring at her 
both he and Minta not knowing where to look, or how 
to speak. Then at last his wife had broken out, crying : 

' Oh, Miss ! we should ha starved - 

And Miss Boyce had stopped her in a moment, 
catching her by the hand. Did n't she know it? Was 
she there to preach to them? Only Hurd must promise 
not to do it any more, for his wife's sake. 

And he stammering left without excuse or 
resource, either against her charge, or the work she 
offered him had promised her, and promised her, 
moreover in his trepidation with more fervency 
than he at all liked to remember. 

For about a fortnight, perhaps, he had gone to the 

Court by day, and had kept indoors by night. Then, 

just as the vagabond passions, the Celtic instincts, so 

long repressed, so lately roused, were goading at him 

[ 216 ] 


again, he met Westall in the road Westall, who 
looked him over from top to toe with an insolent smile, 
as much as to say, 'Well, my man, we've got the 
whip hand of you now!' That same night he crept 
out again in the dark and the early morning, in spite 
of all Minta's tears and scolding. 

Well, what matter? As towards the rich and the 
law, he had the morals of the slave, who does not feel 
that he has had any part in making the rules he is 
expected to keep, and breaks them when he can with 
glee. It made him uncomfortable, certainly, that 
Miss Boyce should come in and out of their place as 
she did, should be teaching Willie to read, and bring- 
ing her old dresses to make up for Daisy and Nellie, 
while he was making a fool of her in this way. Still 
he took it all as it came. One sensation wiped out 

Besides, Miss Boyce had, after all, much part in 
this double life of his. Whenever he was at home, 
sitting over the fire with a pipe, he read those papers 
and things she had brought him in the summer. He 
had not taken much notice of them at first. Now he 
spelled them out again and again. He had always 
thought 'them rich people took advantage of yer.' 
But he had never supposed, somehow, they were such 
thieves, such mean thieves, as it appeared they were. 
A curious ferment filled his restless, inconsequent 
brain. The poor were downtrodden, but they were 
coming to their rights. The land and its creatures 
were for the people ! not for the idle rich. Above all, 
Westall was a devil, and must be put down. For the 
rest, if he could have given words to experience, he 
[ 217 ] 


would have said that since he began to go out poach- 
ing he had burst his prison and found himself. A life 
which was not merely endurance pulsed in him. The 
scent of the night woods, the keenness of the night 
air, the tracks and ways of the wild creatures, the 
wiles by which he slew them, the talents and charms 
of his dog Bruno these things had developed in 
him new aptitudes both of mind and body, which 
were in themselves exhilaration. He carried his dwarf's 
frame more erect, breathed from an ampler chest. 
As for his work at the Court, he thought of it often 
with impatience and disgust. It was a more useful 
blind than his cobbling, or he would have shammed 
illness and got quit of it. 

'Them were sharp uns that managed that business 
at Tudley End ! ' He fell thinking about it and chuck- 
ling over it as he smoked. Two of Westall's best 
coverts swept almost clear just before the big shoot 
in November ! and all done so quick and quiet, 
before you could say 'Jack Robinson/ Well, there 
was plenty more yet, more woods, and more birds. 
There were those coverts down there, on the Mellor 
side of the hollow they had been kept for the last 
shoot in January. Hang him ! why was n't that fellow 
up to time? 

But no one came, and he must sit on, shivering and 
smoking, a sack across his shoulders. As the stir of 
nerve and blood caused by the ferreting subsided, his 
spirits began to sink. Mists of Celtic melancholy, per- 
haps of Celtic superstition, gained upon him. He 
found himself glancing from side to side, troubled by 
the noises in the wood. A sad light wind crept about 
[ 218 ] 


the trunks like a whisper; the owls called overhead; 
sometimes there was a sudden sharp rustle or fall of 
a branch that startled him. Yet he knew every track, 
every tree in that wood. Up and down that field out- 
side he had followed his father at the plough, a little 
sickly object of a lad, yet seldom unhappy, so long as 
childhood lasted, and his mother's temper could be 
fled from, either at school or in the fields. Under that 
boundary hedge to the right he had lain stunned and 
bleeding all a summer afternoon, after old Westall 
had thrashed him, his heart scorched within him by 
the sense of wrong and the craving for revenge. On 
that dim path leading down the slope of the wood, 
George Westall had once knocked him down for dis- 
turbing a sitting pheasant. He could see himself fall- 
ing the tall, powerful lad standing over him with 
a grin. 

Then, inconsequently, he began to think of his 
father's death. He made a good end did the old man. 
'Jim, my lad, the Lord's verra merciful,' or 'Jim, 
you'll look after Ann/ Ann was the only daughter. 
Then a sigh or two, and a bit of sleep, and it was 

And everybody must go the same way, must come 
to the same stopping of the breath, the same awful- 
ness in a life of blind habit of a moment that 
never had been before and never could be again? 
He did not put it to these words, but the shudder 
that is in the thought for all of us, seized him. He 
was very apt to think of dying, to ponder in his 
secret heart how it would be, and when. And always 
it made him very soft towards Minta and the children. 
[ 219 ] 


Not only did the life instinct cling to them, to the 
warm human hands and faces hemming him in and 
protecting him from that darkness beyond with its 
shapes of terror. But to think of himself as sick, and 
gasping to his end, like his father, was to put himself 
back in his old relation to his wife, when they were 
first married. He might cross Minta now, but if he 
came to lie sick, he could see himself there, in the 
future, following her about with his eyes, and thank- 
ing her, and doing all she told him, just as he'd used 
to do. He could n't die without her to help him 
through. The very idea of her being taken first, 
roused in him a kind of spasm a fierceness, a clench- 
ing of the hands. But all the same, in this poaching 
matter, he must have his way, and she must just get 
used to it. 

Ah! a low whistle from the further side of the 
wood. He replied, and was almost instantly joined by 
a tall, slouching youth, by day a blacksmith's appren- 
tice at Gairsley, the Maxwells' village, who had often 
brought him information before. 

The two sat talking for ten minutes or so on the 
log. Then they parted ; Hurd went back to the ditch 
where he had left the game, put two rabbits into his 
pockets, left the other two to be removed in the 
morning when he came to look at his snares, and 
went off home, keeping as much as possible in the 
shelter of the hedges. On one occasion he braved the 
moonlight and the open field, rather than pass through 
a woody corner where an old farmer had been found 
dead some six years before. Then he reached a deep 
lane leading to the village, and was soon at his own door. 

[ 220 ] 


As he climbed the wooden ladder leading to the 
one bedroom where he, his wife, and his four children 
slept, his wife sprang up in bed. 

'Jim, you must be perished such a night as 't is, 
Oh, Jim where ha you bin? 7 

She was a miserable figure in her coarse night-gown, 
with her grizzling hair wild about her, and her thin 
arms nervously outstretched along the bed. The room 
was freezing cold, and the moonlight stealing through 
the scanty bits of curtains brought into dismal clear- 
ness the squalid bed, the stained walls, and bare, 
uneven floor. On an iron bedstead, at the foot of the 
large bed, lay Willie, restless and coughing, with the 
elder girl beside him fast asleep; the other girl lay 
beside her mother, and the wooden box with rockers, 
which held the baby, stood within reach of Mrs- 
Kurd's arm. 

He made her no answer, but went to look at the 1 
coughing boy, who had been in bed for a week with 

'You've never been and got in Westall's way again ?* 
she said, anxiously. 'It's no good my tryin' to get a, 
wink o' sleep when you're out like this.' 

'Don't you worrit yourself,' he said to her, not 
roughly, but decidedly. 'I'm all right. This boy's 
bad, Minta.' 

'Yes, an I kep up the fire an put the spout on 
the kettle, too.' She pointed to the grate and to the 
thin line of steam, which was doing its powerless 
best against the arctic cold of the room. 

Kurd bent over the boy and tried to put him com- 
fortable. The child, weak and feverish, only began to 


cry a hoarse bronchial crying, which threatened to 
wake the baby. He could not be stopped, so Kurd 
made haste to take off his own coat and boots, and 
then lifted the poor soul in his arms. 

'You'll be quiet, Will, and go sleep, won't yer, if 
daddy takes keer on you?' 

He wrapped his own coat round the little fellow, 
and lying down beside his wife, took him on his arm 
and drew the thin brown blankets over himself and 
his charge. He himself was warm with exercise, and 
in a little while the huddling creatures on either side 
of him were warm too. The quick, panting breath of 
the boy soon showed that he was asleep. His father, 
too, sank almost instantly into deep gulfs of sleep. 
Only the wife nervous, overdone, and possessed by 
a thousand fears lay tossing and wakeful hour 
after hour, while the still glory of the winter night 
passed by. 


WELL, Marcella, have you and Lady Winterbourne 
arranged your classes?' 

Mrs. Boyce was stooping over a piece of needlework 
beside a window in the Mellor drawing-room, trying 
to catch the rapidly failing light. It was one of the 
last days of December. Marcella had just come in 
from the village rather early, for they were expecting 
a visitor to arrive about tea-time, and had thrown 
herself, tired, into a chair near her mother. 

'We have got about ten or eleven of the younger 
women to join; none of the old ones will come,' said 
Marcella. 'Lady Winterbourne has heard of a capital 
teacher from Dunstable, and we hope to get started 
next week. There is money enough to pay wages for 
three months/ 

In spite of her fatigue, her eye was bright and 
restless. The energy of thought and action from which 
she had just emerged still breathed from every limb 
and feature. 

'Where have you got the money?' 

'Mr. Raeburn has managed it/ said Marcella, briefly. 

Mrs. Boyce gave a slight shrug of the shoulders. 

'And afterwards what is to become of your 

'There is a London shop Lady Winterbourne knows 
will take what we make if it turns out well. Of course, 
we don't expect to pay our way.' 
[ 223 ] 


Marcella gave her explanations with a certain stiff- 
ness of self-defence. She and Lady Winterbourne had 
evolved a scheme for reviving and improving the local 
industry of straw-plaiting, which after years of decay 
seemed now on the brink of final disappearance. The 
village women who could at present earn a few pence 
a week by the coarser kinds of work were to be in- 
structed, not only in the finer and better paid sorts, 
but also in the making-up of the plait when done, 
and the " blacking" of hats and bonnets processes 
hitherto carried on exclusively at one or two large 
local centres. 

'You don't expect to pay your way?' repeated Mrs. 
Boyce. 'What, never?' 

'Well, we shall give twelve to fourteen shillings a 
week wages. We shall find the materials, and the 
room and prices are very low, the whole trade de- 

Mrs. Boyce laughed. 

'I see. How many workers do you expect to get 

'Oh! eventually, about two hundred in the three 
villages. It will regenerate the whole life!' said Mar- 
cella, a sudden ray from the inner warmth escaping 
her, against her will. 

Mrs. Boyce smiled again, and turned her work so as 
to see it better. 

'Does Aldous understand what you are letting him 
in for?' 

Marcella flushed. 

'Perfectly. It is "ransom " that's all.' 

'And he is ready to take your view of it?' 


'Oh, he thinks us economically unsound, of course/ 
said Marcella, impatiently. 'So we are. All care for 
the human being under the present state of things is 
economically unsound. But he likes it no more than 
I do/ 

'Well, lucky for you he has a long purse/ said Mrs. 
Boyce, lightly. 'But I gather, Marcella, you don't 
insist upon his spending it all on straw-plaiting. He 
told me yesterday he had taken the Hertford Street 

'We shall live quite simply/ said Marcella, quickly. 

'What, no carriage?' 

Marcella hesitated. 

'A carriage saves time. And if one goes about much, 
it does not cost so much more than cabs/ 

'So you mean to go about much? Lady Winter- 
bourne talks to me of presenting you in May/ 

'That's Miss Raeburn/ cried Marcella. 'She says 
I must, and all the family would be scandalised if I 
did n't go. But you can't imagine - 

She stopped and took off her hat, pushing the hair 
back from her forehead. A look of worry and excite- 
ment had replaced the radiant glow of her first resting 

'That you like it?' said Mrs. Boyce, bluntly. 'Well, 
I don't know. Most young women like pretty gowns, 
and great functions, and prominent positions. I don't 
call you an ascetic, Marcella/ 

Marcella winced. 

'One has to fit one's self to circumstances/ she said, 
proudly. 'One may hate the circumstances, but one 
can't escape them/ 

[ 225 ] 


'Oh, I don't think you will hate your circumstances, 
my dear ! You would be very foolish if you did. Have 
you heard finally how much the settlement is to be?' 

'No,' said Marcella, shortly. 'I have not asked 
papa, nor anybody.' 

' It was only settled this morning. Your father told 
me hurriedly as he went out. You are to have two 
thousand a year of your own.' 

The tone was dry, and the speaker's look as she 
turned towards her daughter had in it a curious hos- 
tility; but Marcella did not notice her mother's 

'It is too much,' she said in a low voice. 

She had thrown back her head against the chair in 
which she sat, and her half -troubled eyes were wan- 
dering over the darkening expanse of lawn and 

' He said he wished you to feel perfectly free to live 
your own life, and to follow out your own projects. 
Oh, for a person of projects, my dear, it is not so much. 
You will do well to husband it. Keep it for yourself. 
Get what you want of it, not what other people want.' 

Again Marcella's attention missed the note of agita- 
tion in her mother's sharp manner. A soft look a 
look of compunction passed across her face. Mrs. 
Boyce began to put her working-things away, finding 
it too dark to do any more. 

'By the way,' said the mother, suddenly, 'I suppose 
you will be going over to help him in his canvassing 
this next few weeks? Your father says the election 
will be certainly in February.' 

Marcella moved uneasily. 

[ 226 ] 


'He knows/ she said at last/ that I don't agree with 
him in so many things. He is so full of this Peasant 
Proprietors Bill. And I hate peasant properties. 
They are nothing but a step backwards/ 

Mrs. Boyce lifted her eyebrows. 

'That's unlucky. He tells me it is likely to be his 
chief work in the new Parliament. Isn't it, on the 
whole, probable that he knows more about the country 
than you do, Marcella?' 

Marcella sat up with sudden energy and gathered 
her walking-things together. 

'It isn't knowledge that's the question, mamma; 
it's the principle of the thing. / may n't know any- 
thing, but the people whom I follow know. There are 
the two sides of thought the two ways of looking 
at things. I warned Aldous when he asked me to 
marry him which I belonged to. And he accepted it.' 

Mrs. Boyce's thin fine mouth curled a little. 

'So you suppose that Aldous had his wits about him 
on that great occasion as much as you had?' 

Marcella first started, then quivered with nervous 

'Mother,' she said, 'I can't bear it. It's not the 
first time that you have talked as though I had taken 
some unfair advantage made an unworthy bargain. 
It is too hard too. Other people may think what they 
like, but that you ' 

Her voice failed her, and the tears came into her 
eyes. She was tired and over-excited, and the con- 
trast between the atmosphere of flattery and consid- 
eration which surrounded her in Aldous 's company, 
in the village, or at the Winterbournes', and this tone 
[ 227 ] 


which her mother so often took with her when they 
were alone, was at the moment hardly to be endured. 

Mrs. Boyce looked up more gravely. 

'You misunderstand me, my dear/ she said, quietly. 
'I allow myself to wonder at you a little, but I think 
no hard things of you ever. I believe you like Al- 

'Really, mamma!* cried Marcella, half -hysterically. 

Mrs. Boyce had by now rolled up her work and shut 
her work-basket. 

'If you are going to take off your things/ she said, 
'please tell William that there will be six or seven at 
tea. You said, I think, that Mr. Raeburn was going to 
bring Mr. Hallin?' 

'Yes, and Frank Leven is coming. When will Mr. 
Wharton be here?' 

'Oh, in ten minutes or so, if his train is punctual. 
I hear your father just coming in/ 

Marcella went away, and Mrs. Boyce was left a few 
minutes alone. Her thin hands lay idle a moment on 
her lap, and leaning towards the window beside her, 
she looked out an instant into the snowy twilight. Her 
mind was full of its usual calm scorn for those her 
daughter included who supposed that the human 
lot was to be mended by a rise in weekly wages, or that 
suffering has any necessary dependence on the amount 
of commodities of which a man disposes. What hard- 
ship is there in starving and scrubbing and toiling? 
Had she ever seen a labourer's wife scrubbing her 
cottage floor without envy, without moral thirst? Is 
it these things that kill, or any of the great simple 
griefs and burdens? Doth man live by bread alone? 
[ 228 ] 


The whole language of social and charitable enthusi- 
asm often raised in her a kind of exasperation. 

So Marcella would be rich, excessively rich, even 
now. Outside the amount settled upon her, the figures 
of Aldous Raeburn's present income, irrespective of 
the inheritance which would come to him on his grand- 
father's death, were a good deal beyond what even Mr. 
Boyce upon whom the daily spectacle of the- Max- 
well wealth exercised a certain angering effect had 

Mrs. Boyce had received the news of the engage- 
ment with astonishment, but her after-acceptance of 
the situation had been marked by all her usual phil- 
osophy. Probably behind the philosophy there was 
much secret relief. Marcella was provided for. Not 
the fondest or most contriving mother could have done 
more for her than she had at one stroke done for her- 
self. During the early autumn Mrs. Boyce had ex- 
perienced some moments of sharp prevision as to what 
her future relations might be towards this strong and 
restless daughter, so determined to conquer a world 
her mother had renounced. Now all was clear, and 
a very shrewd observer could allow her mind to play 
freely with the ironies of the situation. 

As to Aldous Raeburn, she had barely spoken to 
him before the day when Marcella announced the en- 
gagement, and the lover a few hours later had claimed 
her daughter at the mother's hands with an emotion 
to which Mrs. Boyce found her usual difficulty in re- 
sponding. She had done her best, however, to be 
gracious and to mask her surprise that he should have 
proposed, that Lord Maxwell should have consented, 
[ 229 ] 


and that Marcella should have so lightly fallen a 
victim. One surprise, however, had to be confessed, 
at least to herself. After her interview with her future 
son-in-law, Mrs. Boyce realised that for the first time 
for fifteen years she was likely to admit a new friend. 
The impression made upon him by her own singular 
personality had translated itself in feelings and lan- 
guage- which, against her will as it were, established 
an understanding, an affinity. That she had involun- 
tarily aroused in him the profoundest and most chival- 
rous pity was plain to her. Yet for the first time in her 
life she did not resent it; and Marcella watched her 
mother's attitude with a mixture of curiosity and 

Then followed talk of an early wedding, communi- 
cations from Lord Maxwell to Mr. Boyce of a civil and 
formal kind, a good deal more notice from the 
'county/ and finally this definite statement from 
Aldous Raeburn as to the settlement he proposed 
to make upon his wife, and the joint income which he 
and she would have immediately at their disposal. 

Under all these growing and palpable evidences of 
Marcella 's future wealth and position, Mrs. Boyce had 
shown her usual restless and ironic spirit. But of late, 
and especially to-day, restlessness had become oppres- 
sion. While Marcella was so speedily to become the 
rich and independent woman, they themselves, Mar- 
cella's mother and father, were very poor, in difficul- 
ties even, and likely to remain so. She gathered from 
her husband's grumbling that the provision of a suit- 
able trousseau for Marcella would tax his resources to 
their utmost. How long would it be before they were 
[ 230 ] 


dipping in Marcella's purse? Mrs. Boyce's self -tor- 
menting soul was possessed by one of those night- 
mares her pride had brought upon her in grim succes- 
sion during these fifteen years. And this pride, strong 
towards all the world, was nowhere so strong or so 
indomitable, at this moment, as towards her own 
daughter. They were practically strangers to each 
other; and they jarred. To inquire where the fault 
lay would have seemed to Mrs. Boyce futile. 

Darkness had come on fast, and Mrs. Boyce was in 
the act of ringing for lights when her husband entered. 

'Where's Marcella?' he asked, as he threw himself 
into a chair with the air of irritable fatigue which was 
now habitual to him. 

'Only gone to take off her things and tell William 
about tea. She will be down directly/ 

'Does she know about that settlement?' 

' Yes, I told her. She thought it generous, but not 
I think unsuitable. The world cannot be reformed 
on nothing/ 

'Reformed! fiddlesticks!' said Mr. Boyce, an- 
grily. 'I never saw a girl with a head so full of non- 
sense in my life. Where does she get it from? Why 
did you let her go about in London with those people? 
She may be spoilt for good. Ten to one she'll make 
a laughing-stock of herself and everybody belonging 
to her, before she's done/ 

'Well, that is Mr. Raeburn's affair. I think I should 
take him into account more than Marcella does, if I 
were she. But probably she knows best/ 

' Of course she does. He has lost his head ; any one 
can see that. While she is in the room, he is like a man 
[ 231 ] 


possessed. It does n't sit well on that kind of fellow. 
It makes him ridiculous. I told him half the settle- 
ment would be ample. She would only spend the rest 
on nonsense/ 

'You told him that?' 

'Yes, I did. Oh !' with an angry look at her 
'I suppose you thought I should want to sponge upon 
her? I am as much obliged to you as usual 1 / 

A red spot rose in his wife's thin cheek, but she 
turned and answered him gently, so gently that he had 
the rare sensation of having triumphed over her. He 
allowed himself to be mollified, and she stood there 
over the fire, chatting with him for some time, a 
friendly, natural note in her voice which was rare and, 
insensibly, soothed him like an opiate. She chatted 
about Marcella's trousseau gowns, detailing her own 
contrivances for economy ; about the probable day of 
the wedding, the latest gossip of the election, and so 
on. He sat shading his eyes from the firelight, and 
now and then throwing in a word or two. The inmost 
soul of him was very piteous, harrowed often by a 
new dread the dread of dying. The woman beside 
him held him in the hollow of her hand. In the long 
wrestle between her nature and his, she had con- 
quered. His fear of her and his need of her had even 
come to supply the place of a dozen ethical instincts 
he was naturally without. 

Some discomfort, probably physical, seemed at last 
to break up his moment of rest. 

'Well, I tell you, I often wish it were the other man/ 
he said, with some impatience. 'Raeburn's so d d 
superior. I suppose I offended him by what I said of 


Marcella's whims, and the risk of letting her control 
so much money at her age, and with her ideas. You 
never saw such an air ! all very quiet, of course. 
He buttoned his coat and got up to go, as though I 
were no more worth considering than the table. 
Neither he nor his precious grandfather need alarm 
themselves. I shan't trouble them as a visitor. If I 
shock them, they bore me so we 're quits. Mar- 
cella '11 have to come here if she wants to see her 
father. But owing to your charming system of keep- 
ing her away from us all her childhood, she's not 
likely to want/ 

'You mean Mr. Wharton by the other man?' said 
Mrs. Boyce, not defending herself or Aldous. 

'Yes, of course. But he came on the scene just too 
late, worse luck ! Why would n't he have done just as 
well? He's as mad as she madder. He believes all 
the rubbish she does talks such rot, the people tell 
me, in his meetings. But then he's good company 
he amuses you you don't need to be on your p's 
and q's with him. Why would n't she have taken up 
with him? As far as money goes they could have 
rubbed along. He's not the man to starve when there 
are game-pies going. It's just bad luck.' 

Mrs. Boyce smiled a little. 

'What there is to make you suppose that she would 
have inclined to him, I don't exactly see. She has been 
taken up with Mr. Raeburn, really, from the first week 
of her arrival here.' 

'Well, I dare say there was no one else,' said her 
husband, testily. 'That's natural enough. It's just 
what I say. All I know is, Wharton shall be free to use 
[ 233 ] 


this house just as he pleases during his canvassing, 
whatever the Raeburns may say/ 

He bent forward and poked the somewhat sluggish 
fire with a violence which hindered rather than helped 
it. Mrs. Boyce's smile had quite vanished. She per- 
fectly understood all that was implied, whether in his 
instinctive dislike of Aldous Raeburn, or in his cor- 
diality towards young Wharton. 

After a minute's silence he got up again and left the 
room, walking, as she observed, with difficulty. She 
stopped a minute or so in the same place after he had 
gone, turning her rings absently on her thin fingers. 
She was thinking of some remarks which Dr. Clarke, 
the excellent and experienced local doctor, had made 
to her on the occasion of his last visit. With all the 
force of her strong will she had set herself to disbelieve 
them. But they had had subtle effects already. 
Finally she too went upstairs, bidding Marcella, whom 
she met coming down, hurry William with the tea, as 
Mr. Wharton might arrive any moment. 

Marcella saw the room shut up the large, shabby, 
beautiful room the lamps brought in, fresh wood 
thrown on the fire to make it blaze, and the tea-table 
set out. Then she sat herself down on a low chair by 
the fire, leaning forward with her elbows on her knees 
and her hands clasped in front of her. Her black dress 
revealed her fine full throat and her white wrists, for 
she had an impatience of restraint anywhere, and 
wore frills and falls of black lace where other people 
would have followed the fashion in high collars and 
close wristbands. What must have struck any one 
[ 234 ] 


with an observant eye, as she sat thus, thrown into 
beautiful light and shade by the blaze of the wood-fire, 
was the massiveness of the head compared with the 
nervous delicacy of much of the face, the thinness of 
the wrist, and of the long and slender foot raised on 
the fender. It was perhaps the great thickness and 
full wave of the hair which gave the head its breadth ; 
but the effect was singular, and would have been heavy 
but for the glow of the eyes, which balanced it. 

She was thinking, as a fiancee should, of Aldous 
and their marriage, which had been fixed for the end 
of February. Yet not apparently with any rapturous 
absorption. There was a great deal to plan, and her 
mind was full of business. Who was to look after her 
various village schemes while she and Lady Winter- 
bourne were away in London? Mary Harden had 
hardly brains enough, dear little thing as she was. 
They must find some capable woman and pay her. 
The Cravens would tell her, of course, that she was 
on the highroad to the most degrading of roles the 
rdle of Lady Bountiful. But there were Lady Bounti- 
fuls and Lady Bountifuls. And the role itself was 
inevitable. It all depended upon how it was managed 
in the interest of what ideas. 

She must somehow renew her relations with the 
Cravens in town. It would certainly be in her power 
now to help them and their projects forward a little. 
Of course they would distrust her, but that she would 
get over. 

All the time she was listening mechanically for the 
hall-door bell, which, however, across the distances 
of the great rambling house it was not easy to hear. 
[ 235 ] 


Their coining guest was not much in her mind. She 
tacitly assumed that her father would look after him. 
On the two or three occasions when they had met 
during the last three months, including his luncheon 
at Mellor on the day after her engagement, her thoughts 
had been too full to allow her to take much notice of 
him picturesque and amusing as he seemed to be. 
Of late he had not been much in the neighbourhood. 
There had been a slack time for both candidates, 
which was now to give way to a fresh period of hard 
canvassing in view of the election which everybody 
expected at the end of February. 

But Aldous was to bring Edward Hallin ! That in- 
terested her. She felt an intense curiosity to see and 
know Hallin, coupled with a certain nervousness. 
The impression she might be able to make on him 
would be in some sense an earnest of her future. 

Suddenly, something undefinable a slight sound, 
a current of air made her turn her head. To her 
amazement she saw a young man in the doorway 
looking at her with smiling eyes, and quietly drawing 
off his gloves. 

She sprang up with a feeling of annoyance. 

'Mr. Wharton!' 

'Oh! must you?' he said, with a movement 
of one hand, as though to stop her. 'Could n't you 
stay like that? At first I thought there was nobody 
in the room. Your servant is grappling with my bags, 
which are as the sand of the sea for multitude, so I 
wandered in by myself. Then I saw you and the 
fire and the room. It was like a bit of music. It 
was mere wanton waste to interrupt it.' 
[ 236 ] 


Marcella flushed, as she very stiffly shook hands with 

' I did not hear the front door/ she said, coldly. ' My 
mother will be here directly. May I give you some tea?' 

'Thanks. No, I knew you did not hear me. That 
delighted me. It showed what charming things there 
are in the world that have no spectators ! What a 
delicious place this is ! what a heavenly old place - 
especially in these half-lights ! There was a raw sun 
when I was here before, but now ' 

He stood in front of the fire, looking round the 
great room, and at the few small lamps making their 
scanty light amid the flame-lit darkness. His hands 
were loosely crossed behind his back, and his boyish 
face, in its setting of curls, shone with content and 

'Well/ said Marcella, bluntly, 'I should prefer a 
little more light to live by. Perhaps, when you have 
fallen downstairs here in the dark as often as I have, 
you may too/ 

He laughed. 

'But how much better, after all don't you think 
so? to have too little of anything than too much !' 

He flung himself into a chair beside the tea-table, 
looking up with gay interrogation as Marcella handed 
him his cup. She was a good deal surprised by him. 
On the few occasions of their previous meetings, these 
bright eyes, and this pronounced manner, had been 
at any rate as towards herself much less free and 
evident. She began to recover from the start he had 
given her, and to study him with a half-unwilling 

[ 237 ] 


'Then Mellor will please you/ she said, dryly, in 
answer to his remark, carrying her own tea meanwhile 
to a chair on the other side of the fire. 'My father 
never bought anything my father can't. I believe 
we have chairs enough to sit down upon but we 
have no curtains to half the windows. Can I give you 

For he had risen, and was looking over the tea-tray. 

'Oh! but I must,' he said, discontentedly. 'I must 
have enough sugar in my tea!' 

'I gave you more than the average/ she said, with 
a sudden little leap of laughter, as she came to his aid. 
'Do all your principles break down like this? I was 
going to suggest that you might like some of that fire 
taken away?' And she pointed to the pile of blazing 
logs which now filled up the great chimney. 

'That fire!' he said, shivering, and moving up to it. 
''Have you any idea what sort of a wind you keep up 
here on these hills on a night like this? And to think 
that in this weather, with a barometer that laughs in 
your face when you try to move it, I have three 
meetings to-morrow night!' 

'When one loves the "People," with a large P/ said 
Marcella, 'one must n't mind winds/ 

He flashed a smile at her, answering to the sparkle 
of her look, then applied himself to his tea and toasted 
bun again, with the dainty deliberation of one enjoy- 
ing every sip and bite. 

'No; but if only the People did n't live so far apart. 

Some murderous person wanted them to have only 

one neck. I want them to have only one ear. Only 

then unfortunately everybody would speak well- 

[ 238 ] 


which would bring things round to dulness again. 
Does Mr. Raeburn make you think very bad things 
of me, Miss Boyce?' 

He bent forward to her as he spoke, his blue eyes all 
candour and mirth. 

Marcella started. 

'How can he?' she said, abruptly. 'I am not a 

'Not a Conservative?' he said, joyously. 'Oh! but 
impossible! Does that mean that you ever read my 
poor little speeches? 7 

He pointed to the local newspaper, freshly cut, 
which lay on a table at Marcella's elbow. 

'Sometimes ' said Marcella, embarrassed. 'There 
is so little time/ 

In truth she had hardly given his candidature a 
thought since the day Aldous proposed to her. She 
had been far too much taken up with her own pro- 
spects, with Lady Winterbourne's friendship, and her 
village schemes. 

He laughed. 

'Of course there is. When is the great event 
to be?' 

'I did n't mean that,' said Marcella, stiffly. 'Lady 
Winterbourne and I have been trying to start some 
village workshops. We have been working and talking 
and writing, morning, noon, and night.' 

' Oh ! I know yes, I heard of it. And you really 
think anything is going to come out of finicking little 
schemes of that sort?' 

His dry change of tone drew a quick look from her. 
The fresh-coloured face was transformed. In place 
[ 239 ] 


of easy mirth and mischief, she read an acute and half- 
contemptuous attention. 

'I don't know what you mean/ she said, slowly, 
after a pause. 'Or rather I do know quite well. 
You told papa didn't you? and Mr. Raeburn 
says that you are a Socialist not half-and-half, as 
all the world is, but the real thing? And of course you 
want great changes: you don't like anything that 
might strengthen the upper class with the people. But 
that is nonsense. You can't get the changes for a long, 
long time. And, meanwhile, people must be clothed 
and fed and kept alive.' 

She lay back in her high-backed chair and looked 
at him defiantly. His lip twitched, but he kept his 

'You would be much better employed in forming 
a branch of the Agricultural Union,' he said, decidedly. 
'What is the good of playing Lady Bountiful to a de- 
cayed industry? All that is childish; we want the 
means of revolution. The people who are for reform 
should n't waste money and time on fads/ 

'I understand all that,' she said, scornfully, her 
quick breath rising and falling. 'Perhaps you don't 
know that I was a member of the Venturist Society 
in London? What you say does n't sound very new 
to me ! ' 

His seriousness disappeared in laughter. He hastily 
put down his cup and, stepping over to her, held out 
his hand. 

'You a Venturist? So am I. Joy! Won't you shake 
hands with me, as comrades should? We are a very 
mixed set of people, you know, and between ourselves 
[ 240 ] 


I don't know that we are coming to much. But we 
can make an alderman dream of the guillotine that 
is always something. Oh! but now we can talk on 
quite a new footing!' 

She had given him her hand for an instant, with- 
drawing it with shy rapidity, and he had thrown him- 
self into a chair again, with his arms behind his head, 
and the air of one reflecting happily on a changed 
situation. 'Quite a new footing/ he repeated, thought- 
fully. 'But it is a little surprising. What does 
what does Mr. Raeburn say to it?' 

'Nothing! He cares just as much about the poor as 
you or I, please understand ! He does n't choose my 
way but he won't interfere with it.' 

'Ah ! that is like him like Aldous.' 

Marcella started. 

'You don't mind my calling him by his Christian 
name sometimes? It drops out. We used to meet as 
boys together at the Levens'. The Levens are my 
cousins. He was a big boy, and I was a little one. But 
he did n't like me. You see I was a little beast!' 

His air of appealing candour could not have been 
more engaging. 

'Yes, I fear I was a little beast. And he was, even 
then, and always, 'the good and beautiful.' You 
don't understand Greek, do you, Miss Boyce? But 
he was very good to me. I got into an awful scrape 
once. I let out a pair of eagle owls that used to be kept 
in the courtyard Sir Charles loved them a great 
deal more than his babies I let them out at night 
for pure wickedness, and they came to fearful ends in 
the park. I was to have been sent home next day, in 
[ 241 ] 


the most unnecessary and penal hurry. But Aldous 
interposed said he would look after me for the rest' 
of the holidays/ 

'And then you tormented him?' 

'Oh no !' he said, with gentle complacency. 'Oh no ! 
I never torment anybody. But one must enjoy one's 
self, you know ; what else can one do ? Then afterwards, 
when we were older somehow I don't know but 
we did n't get on. It is very sad I wish he thought 
better of me.' 

The last words were said with a certain change of 
tone, and sitting up he laid the tips of his fingers to- 
gether on his knees with a little plaintive air. Mar- 
cella's eyes danced with amusement, but she looked 
away from him to the fire, and would not answer. 

'You don't help me out. You don't console me. 
It's unkind of you. Don't you think it a melancholy 
fate to be always admiring the people who detest 

'Don't admire them!' she said, merrily. 

His eyebrows lifted. 'That/ he said, dryly, 'is dis- 
loyal. I call I call your ancestor over the mantel- 
piece' - - he waved his hand towards a blackened por- 
trait in front of him 'to witness, that I am all for 
admiring Mr. Raeburn, and you discourage it. Well, 
but now now 1 he drew his chair eagerly towards 
hers, the pose of a minute before thrown to the winds 
'do let us understand each other a little more be- 
fore people come. You know I have a labour news- 

She nodded. 

'You read it?' 

[ 242 ] 


'Is it the Labour Clarion? I take it in.' 

'Capital!' he cried. 'Then I know now why I found 
a copy in the village here. You lent it to a man called 

'I did/ 

'Whose wife worships you? whose good angel 
you have been? Do I know something about you, or 
do I not? Well, now, are you satisfied with that paper? 
Can you suggest to me means of improving it? It 
wants some fresh blood, I think I must find it? I 
bought the thing last year, in a moribund condition, 
with the old staff. Oh ! we will certainly take counsel 
together about it most certainly ! But first I have 
been boasting of knowing something about you but 
I should like to ask do you know anything about 

Both laughed. Then Marcella tried to be serious. 

'Well I I believe you have some land?' 

'Right!' he nodded 'I am a Lincolnshire land- 
owner. I have about five thousand acres enough to 
be tolerably poor on and enough to play tricks 
with. I have a co-operative farm, for instance. At 
present I have lent them a goodish sum of money - 
and remitted them their first half-year's rent. Not so 
far a paying speculation. But it will do some day. 
Meanwhile the estate wants money and my plans 
and I want money badly. I propose to make the 
Labour Clarion pay if I can. That will give me 
more time for speaking and organising, for what con- 
cerns us as Venturists than the Bar.' 

'The Bar?' she said, a little mystified, but following 
every word with a fascinated attention. 
[ 243 ] 


'I made myself a barrister three years ago, to please 
my mother. She thought I should do better in Parlia- 
ment if ever I got in. Did you ever hear of my 

There was no escaping these frank, smiling ques- 

'No/ said Marcella, honestly. 

'Well, ask Lord Maxwell/ he said, laughing. 'He 
and she came across each other once or twice, when he 
was Home Secretary years ago, and she was wild about 
some woman's grievance or other. She always main- 
tains that she got the better of him no doubt he was 
left with a different impression. Well my mother - 
most people thought her mad perhaps she was- 
but then somehow I loved her ! ' 

He was still smiling, but at the last words a charm- 
ing vibration crept into the words, and his eyes 
sought hers with a young open demand for sympathy. 

'Is that so rare?' she asked him, half -laughing - 
instinctively defending her own feeling lest it should be 
snatched from her by any make-believe. 

'Yes as we loved each other it is rare. My 
father died when I was ten. She would not send me 
to school, and I was always in her pocket I shared 
all her interests. She was a wild woman but she 
lived, as not one person in twenty lives/ 

Then he sighed. Marcella was too shy to imitate 
his readiness to ask questions. But she supposed that 
his mother must be dead indeed, now vaguely re- 
membered to have heard as much. 

There was a little silence. 

'Please tell me/ she said, suddenly, 'why do you 
[ 244 ] 


attack my straw-plaiting? Is a co-operative farm any 
less of a stopgap?' 

Instantly his face changed. He drew up his chair 
again beside her, as gay and keen-eyed as before. 

' I can't argue it out now. There is so much to say. 
But do listen! I have a meeting in the village here 
next week to preach land nationalisation. We mean 
to try and form a branch of the Labourers' Union. 
Will you come?' 

Marcella hesitated. 

'I think so/ she said, slowly. 

There was a pause. Then she raised her eyes and 
found his fixed upon her. A sudden sympathy of 
youth, excitement, pleasure seemed to rise between 
them. She had a quick impression of lightness, grace ; 
of an open brow set in curls ; of a look more intimate, 
inquisitive, commanding, than any she had yet met. 

'May I speak to you, Miss?' said a voice at the door. 

Marcella rose hastily. Her mother's maid was stand- 
ing there. 

She hurried across the room. 

'What is the matter, Deacon?' 

'Your mother says, Miss,' said the maid, retreating 
into the hall, 'I am to tell you she can't come down. 
Your father is ill, and she has sent for Dr. Clarke. But 
you are please not to go up. Will you give the gentle- 
men their tea, and she will come down before they 
go, if she can.' 

Marcella had turned pale. 

'May n't I go, Deacon? What is it?' 

'It's a bad fit of pain, your mother says, Miss. 
Nothing can be done till the doctor comes. She begged 
[ 245 ] 


particular that you would n't go up, Miss. She does n't 
want any one put out.' 

At the same moment there was a ring at the outer 

'Oh, there is Aldous/ cried Marcella, with relief, 

and she ran out into the hall to meet him. 



ALDOUS advanced into the inner hall at sight of Mar- 
cella, leaving his companions behind in the vestibule 
taking off their coats. Marcella ran to him. 

'Papa is ill!' she said to him hastily. 'Mamma has 
sent for Dr. Clarke. She won't let me go up, and wants 
us to take no notice and have tea without her/ 

' I am so sorry ! Can we do anything? The dog-cart 
is here with a fast horse. If your messenger went on 
foot ' 

'Oh no! they are sure to have sent the boy on the 
pony. I don't know why, but I have had a presenti- 
ment for a long time past that papa was going to be ill.' 

She looked white and excited. She had turned back 
to the drawing-room, forgetting the other guests, he 
walking beside her. As they passed along the dim 
hall, Aldous had her hand close in his, and when they 
passed under an archway at the further end he stooped 
suddenly in the shadows and kissed the hand. Touch 
- kiss had the clinging, the intensity of passion. 
They were the expression of all that had lain vibrating 
at the man's inmost heart during the dark drive, while 
he had been chatting with his two companions. 

'My darling! I hope not. Would you rather not see 
strangers? Shall I send Hallin and young Leven away? 
They would understand at once/ 

'Oh no! Mr. Wharton is here anyway staying. 
Where is Mr. Hallin? I had forgotten him/ 
[ 247 ] 


Aldous turned and called. Mr. Hallin and young 
Frank Leven, divining something unusual, were look- 
ing at the pictures in the hall. 

Edward Hallin came up and took Marcella's offered 
hand. Each looked at the other with a special attention 
and interest. 'She holds my friend's life in her hands 
is she worthy of it?' was naturally the question 
hanging suspended in the man's judgement. The girl's 
manner was proud and shy, the manner of one anxious 
to please, yet already, perhaps, on the defensive. 

Aldous explained the position of affairs, and Hallin 
expressed his sympathy. He had a singularly attract- 
ive voice, the voice indeed of the orator, which can 
adapt itself with equal charm and strength to the 
most various needs and to any pitch. As he spoke, 
Marcella was conscious of a sudden impression that 
she already knew him and could be herself with him 
at once. 

'Oh, I say/ broke in young Leven, who was stand- 
ing behind; 'don't you be bothered with us, Miss 
Boyce. Just send us back at once. I'm awfully sorry!' 

'No; you are to come in!' she said, smiling through 
her pallor, which was beginning to pass away, and 
putting out her hand to him the young Eton and 
Oxford athlete, just home for his Christmas vacation, 
was a great favourite with her 'You must come 
and have tea and cheer me up by telling me all the 
things you have killed this week. Is there anything 
left alive? You had come down to the fieldfares, you 
know, last Tuesday.' 

He followed her, laughing and protesting, and she 
led the way to the drawing-room. But as her fingers 
[ 248 ] 


were on the handle she once more caught sight of the 
maid, Deacon, standing on the stairs, and ran to speak 
to her. 

'He is better/ she said, coming back with a face 
of glad relief. 'The attack seems to be passing off. 
Mamma can't come down, but she begs that we will 
all enjoy ourselves/ 

'We'll endeavour/ said young Leven, rubbing his 
hands, 'by the help of tea. Miss Boyce, will you please 
tell Aldous and Mr. Hallin not to talk politics when 
they're taking me out to a party. They should fight 
a man of their own size. I'm all limp and trampled 
on, and want you to protect me/ 

The group moved, laughing and talking, into the 

' Jiminy !' said Leven, stopping short behind Aldous, 
who was alone conscious of the lad's indignant aston- 
ishment; 'what the deuce is he doing here?' 

For there on the rug, with his back to the fire, 
stood Wharton, surveying the party with his usual 
smiling aplomb. 

'Mr. Hallin, do you know Mr. Wharton? 7 said Mar- 

'Mr. Wharton and I have met several times on pub- 
lic platforms/ said Hallin, holding out his hand, which 
Wharton took with effusion. Aldous greeted him with 
the impassive manner, the 'three-finger' manner, 
which was with him an inheritance though not from 
his grandfather and did not contribute to his 
popularity in the neighbourhood. As for young Leven, 
he barely nodded to the Radical candidate/and threw 
himself into a chair as far from the fire as possible. 
[ 249 ] 


'Frank and I have met before to-day!' said Whar- 
ton, laughing. 

'Yes, I've been trying to undo some of your mis- 
chief/ said the boy, bluntly. 'I found him, Miss 
Boyce, haranguing a lot of men at the dinner- 
hour at Tudley End one of our villages, you 
know cramming them like anything all about 
the game laws, and our misdeeds my father's, of 
course. ' 

Wharton raised a protesting hand. 

' Oh all very well ! Of course it was us you meant ! 
Well, when he'd driven off, I got up on a cart and had 
my say. I asked them whether they did n't all come 
out at our big shoots, and whether they did n't have 
almost as much fun as we did why ! the schoolmaster 
and the postman come to ask to carry cartridges, and 
everybody turns out, down to the cripples ! whether 
they didn't have rabbits given, them all the year 
round ; whether half of them had n't brothers and sons 
employed somehow about the game, well paid, and 
well treated; whether any man-jack of them would 
be a ha'porth better off if there were no game ; whether 
many of them wouldn't be worse off; and whether 
England would n't be a beastly dull place to live in, 
if people like him' - - he pointed to Wharton 'had 
the governing of it ! And I brought 'em all round too. 
I got them cheering and laughing. Oh ! I can tell you 
old Dodgson'll have to take me on. He says he'll ask 
me to speak for him at several places. I'm not half 
bad, I declare I'm not.' 

'I thought they gave you a holiday task at Eton/ 
observed Wharton, blandly. 

[ 250 ] 


The lad coloured hotly, then bethought himself 
radiant : 

'I left Eton last half, as of course you know quite 
well. But if it had only been last Christmas instead of 
this, would n't I have scored by Jove! They gave 
us a beastly essay instead of a book. " Dera-agogues ! ' ' 
I sat up all night, and screwed out a page and a half. 
I'd have known something about it now/ 

And as he stood beside the tea-table, waiting for 
Marcella to entrust some tea to him for distribution, 
he turned and made a profound bow to his candidate 

Everybody joined in the laugh, led by Wharton. 
Then there was a general drawing-up of chairs, and 
Marcella applied herself to making tea, helped by Al- 
dous. Wharton alone remained standing before the 
fire, observant and apart. 

Hallin, whose health at this moment made all exer- 
tion, even a drive, something of a burden, sat a little 
away from the tea-table, resting, and glad to be silent. 
Yet all the time he was observing the girl presiding 
and the man beside her his friend, her lover. The 
moment had a peculiar, perhaps a melancholy interest 
for him. So close had been the bond between himself 
and Aldous, that the lover's communication of his en- 
gagement had evoked in the friend that sense poign- 
ant, inevitable which in the realm of the affections 
always waits on something done and finished a leaf 
turned, a chapter closed. 'That sad word, Joy !' Hallin 
was alone and ill when Raeburn's letter reached him, 
and through the following day and night he was 
haunted by Landor's phrase, long familiar and signi- 
[ 251 ] 


ficant to him. His letter to his friend, and the letter to 
Miss Boyce for which Raeburn had asked him, had cost 
him an invalid's contribution of sleep and ease. The 
girl's answer had seemed to him constrained and young, 
though touched here and there with a certain fineness 
and largeness of phrase, which, if it was to be taken as 
an index of character, no doubt threw light upon the 
matter so far as Aldous was concerned. 

Her beauty, of which he had heard much, now that 
he was face to face with it, was certainly striking 
enough all the more because of its immaturity, the 
subtlety and uncertainty of its promise. Immaturity 
-uncertainty these words returned upon him as 
he observed her manner with its occasional awkward- 
ness, the awkwardness which goes with power not 
yet fully explored or mastered by its possessor. How 
Aldous hung upon her, following every movement, 
anticipating every want! After a while Hallin found 
himself half-inclined to Mr. Boyce's view, that men 
of Raeburn's type are never seen to advantage in this 
stage this queer topsy-turvy stage of first pas- 
sion. He felt a certain impatience, a certain jealousy 
for his friend's dignity. It seemed to him too, every 
now and then, that she the girl was teased by 
all this absorption, this deference. He was conscious 
of watching for something in her that did not appear; 
and a first prescience of things anxious or untoward 
stirred in his quick sense. 

'You may all say what you like/ said Marcella, 

suddenly, putting down her cup, and letting her hand 

drop for emphasis on her knee; 'but you will never 

persuade me that game-preserving does n't make life 

[ 252 ] 


in the country much more difficult, and the difference 
between classes much wider and bitterer, than they 
need be/ 

The remark cut across some rattling talk of Frank 
Leven 's, who was in the first flush of the sportsman's 
ardour, and, though by no means without parts, could 
at the present moment apply his mind to little else 
than killing of one kind or another, unless it were to 
the chances of keeping his odious cousin out of Par- 

Leven stared. Miss Boyce's speech seemed to him 
to have no sort of & propos. Aldous looked down upon 
her as he stood beside her, smiling. 

' I wish you did n't trouble yourself so much about 
it,' he said. 

'How can I help it?' she answered, quickly; and 
then flushed, like one who has drawn attention in- 
discreetly to their own personal situation. 

"Trouble herself!' echoed young Leven. 'Now, look 
here, Miss Boyce, will you come for a walk with me? 
I'll convince you, as I convinced those fellows over 
there. I know I could, and you won't give me the 
chance; it's too bad.' 

'Oh, you!' she said, with a little shrug; 'what do 
you know about it? One might as well consult a 
gambler about gambling when he is in the middle of 
his first rush of luck. I have ten times more right to 
an opinion than you have. I can keep my head cool, 
and notice a hundred things that you would never 
see. I come fresh into your country life, and the first 
thing that strikes me is that the whole machinery of 
law and order seems to exist for nothing in the world 
[ 253 ] 


but to protect your pheasants! There are policemen 
- to catch poachers ; there are magistrates to try 
them. To judge from the newspapers, at least, they 
have nothing else to do. And if you follow your sport- 
ing instincts, you are a very fine fellow, and every- 
body admires you. But if a shoemaker's son in Mellor 
follows his, he is a villain and a thief, and the police- 
man and the magistrate make for him at once/ 

'But I don't steal his chickens!' cried the lad, 
choking with arguments and exasperation; 'and why 
should he steal my pheasants? I paid for the eggs, I 
paid for the hens to sit on 'em, I paid for the coops to 
rear them in, I paid the men to watch them, I paid 
for the barley to feed them with : why is he to be 
allowed to take my property, and I am to be sent to 
jail if I take his?' 

'Property!' said Marcella, scornfully. 'You can't 
settle everything nowadays by that big word. We are 
coming to put the public good before property. If the 
nation should decide to curtail your "right," as you 
call it, in the general interest, it will do it, and you 
will be left to scream/ 

She had flung her arm round the back of her chair, 
and all her lithe young frame was tense with an 
eagerness, nay, an excitement, which drew Hallin's 
attention. It was more than was warranted by the 
conversation he thought. 

'Well, if you think the abolition of game-preserving 
would be popular in the country, Miss Boyce, I'm 
certain you make a precious mistake,' cried Leven. 
'Why, even you don't think it would be, do you, Mr. 
Hallin?' he said, appealing at random in his disgust. 

[ 254 ] 


'I don't know/ said Hallin, with his quiet smile. 
' I rather think, on the whole, it would be. The farm- 
ers put up with it, but a great many of them don't 
like it. Things are mended since the Ground Game 
Act, but there are a good many grievances still left.' 

'I should think there are!' said Marcella, eagerly, 
bending forward to him. ' I was talking to one of our 
farmers the other day whose land goes up to the edge 
of Lord Winterbourne's woods. "They don't keep 
their pheasants, Miss/' he said. "7 do. I and my 
corn. If I did n't send a man up half -past five in the 
morning, when the ears begin to fill, there 'd be no- 
thing left for us." "Why don't you complain to the 
agent?" I said. "Complain! Lor bless you, Miss, 
you may complain till you're black in the face. I've 
allus found an I' ve been here, man and boy, thirty- 
two year as how Winterbournes generally best it." 
There you have the whole thing in a nutshell. It's a 
tyranny a tyranny of the rich.' 

Flushed and sarcastic, she looked at Frank Leven ; 
but Hallin had an uncomfortable feeling that the 
sarcasm was not all meant for him. Aldous was sitting 
with his hands on his knees, and his head bent forward 
a little. Once, as the talk ran on, Hallin saw him raise 
his grey eyes to the girl beside him, who certainly did 
not notice it, and was not thinking of him. There 
was a curious pain and perplexity in the expression, 
but something else too a hunger, a dependence, a 
yearning, that for an instant gripped the friend's heart. 

'Well, I know Aldous does n't agree with you, Miss 
Boyce/ cried Leven, looking about him in his indigna- 
tion for some argument that should be final. 'You 
[ 255 ] 


don't, do you, Aldous? You don't think the country 
would be the better, if we could do away with game 

'No more than I think it would be the better/ said 
Aldous, quietly, 'if we could do away with gold-plate 
and false hair to-morrow. There would be too many 
hungry goldsmiths and wig-makers on the streets.' 

Marcella turned to him, half -defiant, half -softened. 

'Of course, your point lies in to-morrow,' she said. 
'I accept that. We can't carry reform by starving 
innocent people. But the question is, what are we to 
work towards? May n't we regard the game laws as 
one of the obvious crying abuses to be attacked first 
- in the great campaign ! the campaign which is 
to bring liberty and self-respect back to the country 
districts, and make the labourer feel himself as much 
of a man as the squire?' 

'What a head ! What an attitude !' thought Hallin, 
half -repelled, half -fascinated. ' But a girl that can talk 
politics hostile politics to her lover, and mean 
them too or am I inexperienced? and is it merely 
that she is so much interested in him that she wants 
to be quarrelling with him?' 

Aldous looked up. 'I am not sure/ he said, answer- 
ing her. 'That is always my difficulty, you know,' 
and he smiled at her. ' Game-preserving is not to me 
personally an attractive form of private property, 
but it seems to me bound up with other forms, and 
I want to see where the attack is going to lead me. 
But I would protect your farmer mind ! as zeal- 
ously as you.' 

Hallin caught the impatient quiver of the girl's lip. 
[ 256 ] 


The tea had just been taken away, and Marcella had 
gone to sit upon an old sofa near the fire, whither 
Aldous had followed her. Wharton, who had so far 
said nothing, had left his post of observation on the 
hearth-rug, and was sitting under the lamp balancing 
a paper-knife with great attention on two fingers. In 
the half-light Hallin by chance saw a movement of 
Raeburn's hand towards Marcella's, which lay hidden 
among the folds of her dress quick resistance on her 
part, then acquiescence. He felt a sudden pleasure 
in his friend's small triumph. 

'Aldous and I have worn these things threadbare 
many a time/ he said, addressing his hostess. 'You 
don't know how kind he is to my dreams. I am no 
sportsman and have no landowning relations, so he 
ought to bid me hold my tongue. But he lets me rave. 
To me the simple fact is that game-preserving creates 
crime. Agricultural life is naturally simpler might 
be, it always seems to me, so much more easily moral- 
ised and fraternised than the industrial form. And 
you split it up and poison it all by the emphasis laid 
on this class pleasure. It is a natural pleasure, you 
say. Perhaps it is the survival, perhaps, of some 
primitive instinct in our northern blood but, if so, 
why should it be impossible for the rich to share it 
with the poor? I have little plans dreams. I throw 
them out sometimes to catch Aldous, but he hardly 
rises to them!' 

'Oh ! I say,' broke in Frank Leven, who could really 

bear it no longer. 'Now look here, Miss Boyce, 

what do you think Mr. Hallin wants? It is just sheer 

lunacy it really is though I know I'm impertin- 

[ 257 ] 


ent, and he's a great man. But I do declare he wants 
Aldous to give up a big common there is oh ! over 
beyond Girtstone, down in the plain on Lord Max- 
well's estate, and make a labourers' shoot of it! Now, 
I ask you ! And he vows he does n't see why they 
should n't rear pheasants if they choose to club and 
pay for it. Well, I will say that much for him, Aldous 
did n't see his way to that, though he is n't the kind 
of Conservative 7 want to see in Parliament by a long 
way. Besides, it's such stuff! They say sport brutal- 
ises us, and then they want to go and contaminate 
the labourer. But we won't take the responsibility. 
We've got our own vices, and we'll stick to them; 
we're used to them; but we won't hand them on: 
we'd scorn the action/ 

The flushed young barbarian, driven to bay, was 
not to be resisted. Marcella laughed heartily, and 
Hallin laid an affectionate hand on the boy's shoulder, 
patting him as though he were a restive horse. 

'Yes, I remember I was puzzled as to the details 
of Hallin's scheme/ said Aldous, his mouth twitching. 
'I wanted to know who was to pay for the licences; 
how game enough for the number of applicants was 
to be got without preserving; and how men earning 
twelve or fourteen shillings a week were to pay a 
keeper. Then I asked a clergyman who has a living 
near this common what he thought would be the end 
of it. "Well," he said, "the first day they'd shoot 
every animal on the place; the second day they'd 
shoot each other. Universal carnage I should say 
that would be about the end of it." These were 
trifles, of course details/ 

[ 258 ] 


Hallin shook his head serenely. 

'I still maintain/ he said, 'that a little practical 
ingenuity might have found a way/ 

'And I will support you/ said Wharton, laying 
down the paper-knife and bending over to Hallin, 
'with good reason. For three years and a few months 
just such an idea as you describe has been carried out 
on my own estate, and it has not worked badly at all/ 

' There ! ' cried Marcella. ' There ! I knew something 
could be done, if there was a will. I have always felt it/ 

She half -turned to Aldous, then bent forward instead 
as though listening eagerly for what more Wharton 
might say, her face all alive, and eloquent. 

'Of course, there was nothing to shoot!' exclaimed 
Frank Leven. 

'On the contrary/ said Wharton, smiling, 'we are 
in the middle of a famous partridge country/ 

'How your neighbours must dote on you!' cried the 
boy. But Wharton took no notice. 

'And my father preserved strictly/ he went on. 'It 
is quite a simple story. When I inherited, three years 
ago, I thought the whole thing detestable, and de- 
termined I would n't be responsible for keeping it up. 
So I called the estate together farmers and labour- 
ers and we worked out a plan. There are keepers, 
but they are the estate servants, not mine. Every- 
body has his turn according to the rules I and 
my friends along with the rest. Not everybody can 
shoot every year, but everybody gets his chance, and, 
moreover, a certain percentage of all the game killed 
is public property, and is distributed every year ac- 
cording to a regular order/ 

[ 259 ] 


'Who pays the keepers?' interrupted Leven. 

'I do/ said Wharton, smiling again. 'May n't I 
for the present do what I will with mine own? I 
return in their wages some of my ill-gotten gains as 
a landowner. It is all makeshift, of course/ 

' I understand ! ' exclaimed Marcella, nodding to him 

'you could not be a Venturist and keep up game- 

Wharton met her bright eye with a half -deprecating, 
reserved air. 

'You are right, of course/ he said, dryly. 'For a 
Socialist to be letting his keepers run in a man earning 
twelve shillings a week for knocking over a rabbit 
would have been a little strong. No one can be con- 
sistent in my position in any landowner's position 

it is impossible; still, thank Heaven, one can deal 
with the most glaring matters. As Mr. Raeburn said, 
however, all this game business is, of course, a mere 
incident of the general land and property system, as 
you will hear me expound when you come to that 
meeting you promised me to honour.' 

He stooped forward, scanning her with smiling 
deference. Marcella felt the man's hand that held 
her own suddenly tighten an instant. Then Al- 
dous released her, and, rising, walked towards the 

'You're not going to one of his meetings, Miss 
Boyce!' cried Frank, in angry incredulity. 

Marcella hesitated an instant, half angry with 
Wharton. Then she reddened and threw back her 
dark head with the passionate gesture Hallin had al- 
ready noticed as characteristic. 

[ 260 ] 


'May n't I go where I belong?' she said 'where 
my convictions lead me?' 

There was a moment's awkward silence. Then 
Hallin got up. 

'Miss Boyce, may we see the house? Aldous has 
told me much of it.' 

Presently, in the midst of their straggling progress 
through the half -furnished rooms of the garden front, 
preceded by the shy footman carrying a lamp, which 
served for little more than to make darkness visible, 
Marcella found herself left behind with Aldous. As 
soon as she felt that they were alone, she realised a 
jar between herself and him. His manner was much 
as usual, but there was an underlying effort and dif- 
ficulty which her sensitiveness caught at once. A 
sudden wave of girlish trouble remorse swept over 
her. In her impulsiveness she moved close to him as 
they were passing through her mother's little sitting- 
room, and put her hand on his arm. 

'I don't think I was nice just now,' she said, stam- 
mering. 'I didn't mean it. I seem to be always 
driven into opposition into a feeling of war when 
you are so good to me so much too good to me!' 

Aldous had turned at her first word. With a long 
breath, as it were of unspeakable relief, he caught her 
in his arms vehemently, passionately. So far she had 
been very shrinking and maidenly with him in their 
solitary moments, and he had been all delicate chivalry 
and respect, tasting to the full the exquisiteness of 
each fresh advance towards intimacy, towards lover's 
privilege, adoring her, perhaps, all the more for her 


reserve, her sudden flights, and stiffenings. But to- 
night he asked no leave, and in her astonishment she 
was almost passive. 

'Oh, do let me go! 7 she cried at last, trying to dis- 
engage herself completely. 

'No!' he said, with emphasis, still holding her hand 
firmly. 'Come and sit down here. They will look 
after themselves/ 

He put her, whether she would or no, into an arm- 
chair and knelt beside her. 

'Did you think it was hardly kind/ he said, with a 
quiver of voice he could not repress, 'to let me hear 
for the first time, in public, that you had promised to 
go to one of that man's meetings after refusing again 
and again to come to any of mine?' 

' Do you want to forbid me to go? ' she said, quickly. 
There was a feeling in her which would have been 
almost relieved, for the moment, if he had said yes. 

'By no means/ he said, steadily. 'That was not 
our compact. But guess for yourself what I want ! 
Do you think' he paused a moment 'do you think 
I put nothing of myself into my public life into 
these meetings among the people who have known me 
from a boy? Do you think it is all a convention 
that my feeling, my conscience, remain outside? You 
can't think that! But if not, how can I bear to live 
what is to be so large a part of my life out of your ken 
and sight? I know I know you warned me amply 
- you can't agree with me. But there is much besides 
intellectual agreement possible much that would 
help and teach us both if only we are together - 
not separated not holding aloof - 
[ 262 ] 


He stopped, watching all the changes of her face. 
She was gulfed in a deep wave of half-repentant 
feeling, remembering all his generosity, his forbearance, 
his devotion. 

'When are you speaking next?' she half -whispered. 
In the dim light her softened pose, the gentle, sudden 
relaxation of every line, were an intoxication. 

'Next week Friday at Gairsly. Hallin and 
Aunt Neta are coming/ 

'Will Miss Raeburn take me?' 

His grey eyes shone upon her, and he kissed her 

'Mr. Hallin won't speak for you!' she said, after the 
silence, with a return of mischief. 

'Don't be so sure! He has given me untold help 
in the drafting of my Bill. If I did n't call myself a 
Conservative, he would vote for me to-morrow. That's 
the absurdity of it. Do you know, I hear them coming 

'One thing,' she said hastily, drawing him towards 
her, and then holding him back, as though shrinking 
always from the feeling she could so readily evoke. 
'I must say it; you oughtn't to give me so much 
money, it is too much. Suppose I use it for things 
you don't like?' 

'You won't,' he said, gaily. 

She tried to push the subject further, but he would 
not have it. 

'I am all for free discussion,' he said in the same 
tone; 'but sometimes debate must be stifled. I am 
going to stifle it!' 

And stooping, he kissed her, lightly, tremulously. 
[ 263 ] 


His manner showed her once more what she was to 
him how sacred, how beloved. First it touched 
and shook her; then she sprang up with a sudden 
disagreeable sense of moral disadvantage inferiority 
coming she knew not whence, and undoing for the 
moment all that buoyant consciousness of playing 
the magnanimous, disinterested part which had pos- 
sessed her throughout the talk in the drawing-room. 

The others reappeared, headed by their lamp: 
Wharton first, scanning the two who had lingered 
behind, with his curious eyes, so blue and brilliant 
under the white forehead and the curls. 

'We have been making the wildest shots at your 
ancestors, Miss Boyce/ he said. 'Frank professed to 
know everything about the pictures, and turned out 
to know nothing. I shall ask for some special coaching 
to-morrow morning. May I engage you ten o'clock?' 

Marcella made some evasive answer, and they all 
sauntered back to the drawing-room. 

'Shall you be at work to-morrow, Raeburn?' said 

'Probably/ said Aldous, dryly. Marcella, struck by 
the tone, looked back, and caught an expression and 
bearing which were as yet new to her in the speaker. 
She supposed they represented the haughtiness 
natural in the man of birth and power towards the 
intruder, who is also the opponent. 

Instantly the combative, critical mood returned 
upon her, and the impulse to assert herself by pro- 
tecting Wharton. His manner throughout the talk in 
the drawing-room had been, she declared to herself, 
excellent modest, and self -restrained, comparing curi- 
[ 264 ] 


ously with the boyish egotism and self-abandonment 
he had shown in their tete-a-tete. 

'Why, there is Mr. Boyce/ exclaimed Wharton, 
hurrying forward as they entered the drawing-room. 

There, indeed, on the sofa was the master of the 
house, more ghastly black-and-white than ever, and 
prepared to claim to the utmost the tragic pre-emin- 
ence of illness. He shook hands coldly with Aldous, 
who asked after his health with the kindly brevity 
natural to the man who wants no effusions for himself 
in public or personal matters, and concludes therefore 
that other people desire none. 

'You are better, papa?' said Marcella, taking his 

'Certainly, my dear better for morphia. Don't 
talk of me. I have got my death-warrant, but I hope 
I can take it quietly. Evelyn, I specially asked to have 
that thin cushion brought down from my dressing- 
room. It is strange that no one pays any attention 
to my wants/ 

Mrs. Boyce, almost as white, Marcella now saw, as 
her husband, moved forward from the fire, where she 
had been speaking to Hallin, took a cushion from a 
chair near, exactly similar to the one he missed, and 
changed his position a little. 

' It is just the feather's weight of change that makes 
the difference, is n't it?' said Wharton, softly, sitting 
down beside the invalid. 

Mr. Boyce turned a mollified countenance upon the 
speaker, and being now free from pain, gave him- 
self up to the amusement of hearing his guest talk. 
[ 265 ] 


Wharton devoted himself, employing all his best 

'Dr. Clarke is not anxious about him/ Mrs. Boyce 
said in a low voice to Marcella as they moved away. 
'He does not think the attack will return for a long 
while, and he has given me the means of stopping it 
if it does come back/ 

'How tired you look!' said Aldous, coming up to 
them, and speaking in the same undertone. 'Will you 
not let Marcella take you to rest?' 

He was always deeply, unreasonably touched by 
any sign of stoicism, of defied suffering in women. 
Mrs. Boyce had proved it many times already. On the 
present occasion she put his sympathy by, but she 
lingered to talk with him. Hallin from a distance 
noticed first of all her tall thinness and fairness, and 
her wonderful dignity of carriage; then the cordiality 
of her manner to her future son-in-law. Marcella stood 
by listening, her young shoulders somewhat stiffly set. 
Her consciousness of her mother's respect and admira- 
tion for the man she was to marry was, oddly enough, 
never altogether pleasant to her. It brought with it 
a certain discomfort, a certain wish to argue things out. 

Hallin and Aldous parted with Frank Leven at 
Mellor gate, and turned homeward together under a 
starry heaven already whitening to the coming moon. 

'Do you know that man Wharton is getting an 
extraordinary hold upon the London working-men?' 
said Hallin. 'I have heard him tell that story of the 
game-preserving before. He was speaking for one of 
the Radical candidates at Hackney, and I happened 
to be there. It brought down the house. The rdle of 
[ 266 ] 


your Socialist aristocrat, of your land-nationalising 
landlord, is a very telling one/ 

'And comparatively easy/ said Aldous, 'when you 
know that neither Socialism nor land-nationalisation 
will come in your time!' 

'Oh! so you think him altogether a windbag?' 

Aldous hesitated and laughed. 

'I have certainly no reason to suspect him of prin- 
ciples. His conscience as a boy was of pretty elastic 

'You may be unfair to him/ said Hallin, quickly. 
Then, after a pause : 'How long is he staying at Mellor? ' 

'About a week, I believe/ said Aldous, shortly. 
'Mr. Boyce has taken a fancy to him/ 

They walked on in silence, and then Aldous turned 
to his friend in distress. 

'You know, Hallin, this wind is much too cold for 
you. You are the most wilful of men. Why would you 

'Hold your tongue, sir, and listen to me. I think 
your Marcella is beautiful, and as interesting as she is 
beautiful. There!' 

Aldous started, then turned a grateful face upon 

'You must get to know her well/ he said, but with 
some constraint. 

'Of course. I wonder/ said Hallin, musing, 'whom 
she has got hold of among the Venturists. Shall you 
persuade her to come out of that, do you think, 

'No!' said Raeburn, cheerfully. 'Her sympathies 
and convictions go with them/ 
[ 267 ] 


Then, as they passed through the village, he began 
to talk of quite other things college friends, a recent 
volume of philosophical essays, and so on. Hallin, 
accustomed and jealously accustomed as he was to be 
the one person in the world with whom Raeburn talked 
freely, would not to-night have done or said anything 
to force a strong man's reserve. But his own mind was 
full of anxiety. 


I LOVE this dilapidation!' said Wharton, pausing for 
a moment with his back against the door he had just 
shut. ' Only it makes me long to take off my coat and 
practise some honest trade or other plastering, or 
carpentering, or painting. What useless drones we 
upper classes are ! Neither you nor I could mend that 
ceiling or patch this floor to save our lives/ 

They were in the disused library. It was now the 
last room westwards of the garden front, but in real- 
ity it was part of the older house, and had been only 
adapted and rebuilt by that eighteenth-century 
Marcella whose money had been so gracefully and 
vainly lavished on giving dignity to her English hus- 
band's birthplace. The roof had been raised and 
domed to match the 'Chinese room/ at the expense of 
some small rooms on the upper floor ; and the windows 
and doors had been suited to eighteenth-century taste. 
But the old books in the old latticed shelves which the 
Puritan founder of the family had bought in the days 
of the Long Parliament were still there ; so were the 
chairs in which that worthy had sat to read a tract of 
Milton's or of Baxter's, or the table at which he had 
penned his letters to Hampden or Fairfax, or to his old 
friend on the wrong side Edmund Verney the 
standard-bearer. Only the worm-eaten shelves were 
dropping from their supports, and the books lay in 
mouldy confusion; the roofs had great holes and 
[ 269 ] 


gaps, whence the laths hung dismally down, and bats 
came flitting in the dusk; and there were rotten places 
in the carpetless floor. 

'I have tried my best/ said Marcella, dolefully, 
stooping to look at a hole in the floor. ' I got a bit of 
board and some nails, and tried to mend some of these 
places myself. But I only broke the rotten wood 
away ; and papa was angry, and said I did more harm 
than good. I did get a carpenter to mend some of the 
chairs ; but one does n't know where to begin. I have 
cleaned and mended some of the books, but - 

She looked sadly round the musty, forlorn place. 

'But not so well, I am afraid, as any second-hand 
bookseller's apprentice could have done it/ said 
Wharton, shaking his head. ' It's maddening to think 
what duffers we gentlefolks are!' 

'Why do you harp on that?' said Marcella, quickly. 
She had been taking him over the house, and was in 
twenty minds again as to whether and how much she 
liked him. 

'Because I have been reading some Board of Trade 
reports before breakfast/ said Wharton, 'on one or 
two of the Birmingham industries in particular. 
Goodness! what an amount of knowledge and skill 
and resource these fellows have that I go about calling 
the "lower orders." I wonder how long they are going 
to let me rule over them!' 

'I suppose brain-power and education count for 
something still?' said Marcella, half -scornfully. 

'I am greatly obliged to the world for thinking 
so/ said Wharton, with emphasis, 'and for thinking so 
about the particular kind of brain-power I happen to 
[ 270 ] 


possess, which is the point. The processes by which 
a Birmingham jeweller makes the wonderful things 
which we attribute to /'French taste" when we see 
them in the shops of the Rue de la Paix are, of course, 
mere imbecility compared to my performances in 
Responsions. Lucky for me, at any rate, that the world 
has decided it so. I get a good time of it and the 
Birmingham jeweller calls me "sir." 3 

' Oh ! the skilled labour ! that can take care of itself, 
and won't go on calling you "sir" much longer. But 
what about the unskilled the people here, for in- 
stance the villagers? We talk of their governing 
themselves; we wish it, and work for it. But which 
of us really believes that they are fit for it, or that 
they are ever going to get along without our brain- 

'No poor souls!' said Wharton, with a peculiar 
vibrating emphasis. "By their stripes we are healed, 
by their death we have lived." Do you remember your 

They had entered one of the bays formed by .the 
bookcases which on either side of the room projected 
from the wall at regular intervals, and were standing 
by one of the windows which looked out on the great 
avenue. Beside the window on either side hung a 
small portrait in the one case of an elderly man in 
a wig, in the other of a young, dark-haired woman. 

'Plenty in general, but nothing in particular/ said 
Marcella, laughing. 'Quote/ 

He was leaning against the angle formed by the wall 
and the bookcase. The half-serious, half -provocative 
intensity of his blue eyes under the brow which 
[ 271 ] 


drooped forward contrasted with the careless, well- 
appointed ease of his general attitude and dress. 

' " Two men I honour, and no third,"' he said, quoting 
in a slightly dragging, vibrating voice: '"First, the 
toilworn craftsman that with earth-made implement 
laboriously conquers the earth and makes her man's. - 
Hardly-entreated Brother! For us was thy back so bent, 
for us were thy straight limbs and fingers so deformed; 
thou wert our conscript, on whom the lot fell, and fighting 
our battles wert so marred." Heavens! how the words 
swing ! But it is great nonsense, you know, for you and 
me Venturists to be maundering like this. Charity 
- benevolence that is all Carlyle is leading up to. 
He merely wants the cash nexus supplemented by a 
few good offices. But we want something much more 
unpleasant ! " Keep your subscriptions hand over 
your dividends turn out of your land and go to 
work !" Nowadays society is trying to get out of doing 
what we want, by doing what Carlyle wanted/ 

'Do you want it?' said Marcella. 

'I don't know/ he said, laughing. 'It won't come 
in our time.' 

Her lip showed her scorn. 

'That's what we all think. Meanwhile you will per- 
haps admit that a little charity greases the wheels.' 

' You must, because you are a woman ; and women 
are made for charity and aristocracy.' 

' Do you suppose you know so much about women?' 
she asked him, rather hotly. ' I notice it is always the 
assumption of the people who make most mistakes.' 

'Oh! I know enough to steer by!' he said, smiling, 
with a little inclination of his curly head, as though 
[ 272 ] 


to propitiate her. 'How like you are to that por- 

Marcella started, and saw that he was pointing to 
the woman's portrait beside the window looking 
from it to his hostess with a close, considering eye. 

'That was an ancestress of mine/ she said, coldly, 
'an Italian lady. She was rich and musical. Her money 
built these rooms along the garden, and these are her 

She showed him that the shelves against which she 
was leaning were full of old music. 

'Italian!' he said, lifting his eyebrows. 'Ah, that 
explains. Do you know that you have all the qual- 
ities of a leader ! ' and he moved away a yard from 
her, studying her 'mixed blood one must always 
have that to fire and fuse the English paste and 
then but no! that won't do I should offend you.' 

Her first instinct was one of annoyance a wish 
to send him about his business, or rather to return 
him to her mother who would certainly keep him in 
order. Instead, however, she found herself saying, as 
she looked carelessly out of window 

'Oh! go on.' 

'Well, then' --he drew himself up suddenly and 
wheeled round upon her 'you have the gift of com- 
promise. That is invaluable that will take you far.' 

'Thank you!' she said. 'Thank you! I know what 
that means from a Venturist. You think me a mean 
insincere person ! ' 

He started, then recovered himself and came to lean 
against the bookshelves beside her. 

'I mean nothing of the sort,' he said, in quite a 
[ 273 ] 


different manner, with a sort of gentle and personal 
emphasis. ' But may I explain myself, Miss Boyce, 
in a room with a fire? I can see you shivering under 
your fur/ 

For the frost still reigned supreme outside, and the 
white grass and trees threw chill, reflected lights into 
the forsaken library. Marcella controlled a pulse of 
excitement that had begun to beat in her, admitted 
that it was certainly cold, and led the way through 
a side door to a little flagged parlour, belonging to the 
oldest portion of the house, where, however, a great 
log-fire was burning, and some chairs drawn up round 
it. She took one and let the fur wrap she had thrown 
about her for their promenade through the disused 
rooms drop from her shoulders. It lay about her in 
full brown folds, giving special dignity to her slim 
height and proud head. Wharton, glancing about in 
his curious, inquisitive way, now at the neglected 
pictures, now on the walls, now at the old oak chairs 
and chests, now at her, said to himself that she was 
a splendid and inspiring creature. She seemed to be 
on the verge of offence with him too, half the time, 
which was stimulating. She would have liked, he 
thought, to play the great lady with him already, as 
Aldous Raeburn's betrothed. But he had so far man- 
aged to keep her off that plane and intended to go 
on doing so. 

'Well, I meant this/ he said, leaning against the old 
stone chimney and looking down upon her; 'only don't 
be offended with me, please. You are a Socialist, and 
you are going some day to be Lady Maxwell. 
Those combinations are only possible to women. They 
[ 274 ] 


can sustain them, because they are imaginative not 

She flushed. 

'And you/ she said, breathing quickly, 'are a Social- 
ist and a landlord. What is the difference?' 

He laughed. 

'Ah! but I have no gift I can't ride the two 
horses, as you will be able to quite honestly. There 's 
the difference. And the consequence is that with my 
own class I am an outcast they all hate me. But 
you will have power as Lady Maxwell and power 
as a Socialist because you will give and take. Half 
your time you will act as Lady Maxwell should, the 
other half like a Venturist. And, as I said, it will 
give you power a modified power. But men are 
less clever at that kind of thing/ 

'Do you mean to say/ she asked him abruptly, 
'that you have given up the luxuries and opportun- 
ities of your class?' 

He shifted his position a little. 

'That is a different matter/ he said, after a moment. 
'We Socialists are all agreed, I think, that no man 
can be a Socialist by himself. Luxuries, for the present, 
are something personal, individual. It is only a man's 
"public form" that matters. And there, as I said 
before, I have no gift ! I have not a relation or an 
old friend in the world that has not turned his back 
upon me as you might see for yourself yesterday ! 
My class has renounced me already which, after 
all, is a weakness/ 

'So you pity yourself?' she said. 

'By no means! We all choose the part in life that 
[ 275 ] 


amuses us that brings us most thrill. I get most 
thrill out of throwing myself into the workmen's war 

much more than I could ever get, you will admit, 
out of dancing attendance on my very respectable 
cousins. My mother taught me to see everything dra- 
matically. We have no drama in England at the present 
moment worth a cent; so I amuse myself with this 
great tragi-comedy of the working-class movement. 
It stirs, pricks, interests me, from morning till night. 
I feel the great rough elemental passions in it, and it 
delights me to know that every day brings us nearer 
to some great outburst, to scenes and struggles at any 
rate that will make us all look alive. I am like a child 
with the best of its cake to come, but with plenty in 
hand already. Ah ! stay still a moment, Miss Boyce ! ' 

To her amazement he stooped suddenly towards 
her; and she, looking down, saw that a corner of her 
light, black dress, which had been overhanging the 
low stone fender, was in flames, and that he was put- 
ting it out with his hands. She made a movement to 
rise, alarmed lest the flames should leap to her face 

her hair. But he, releasing one hand for an instant 
from its task of twisting and rolling the skirt upon 
itself, held her heavily down. 

'Don't move; I will have it out in a moment. You 
won't be burnt/ 

And in a second more she was looking at a ragged 
brown hole in her dress ; and at him, standing, smiling, 
before the fire, and wrapping a handkerchief round 
some of the fingers of his left hand. 
'You have burnt yourself, Mr. Wharton?' 
i 'A little.' 

[ 276 ] 


'I will go and get something what would you like?' 

'A little olive oil if you have some, and a bit of lint 
but don't trouble yourself/ 

She flew to find her mother's maid, calling and 
searching on her way for Mrs. Boyce herself, but in vain. 
Mrs. Boyce had disappeared after breakfast, and was 
probably helping her husband to dress. 

In a minute or so Marcella ran downstairs again, 
bearing various medicaments. She sped to the Stone 
Parlour, her cheek and eye glowing. 

'Let me do it for you/ 

'If you please/ said Wharton, meekly. 

She did her best, but she was not skilful with her 
fingers, and this close contact with him somehow ex- 
cited her. 

'There/ she said, laughing and releasing him. 'Of 
course, if I were a work-girl I should have done it 
better. They are not going to be very bad, I think. ' 

'What, the burns? Oh, no! They will have re- 
covered, I am afraid, long before your dress/ 

'Oh, my dress! yes, it is deplorable. I will go and 
change it/ 

She turned to go, but she lingered instead, and said 
with an odd, introductory laugh : 

'I believe you saved my life!' 

'Well, I am glad I was here. You might have lost 
self-possession even you might, you know ! and 
then it would have been serious/ 

'Anyway ' her voice was still uncertain ' I might 
have been disfigured disfigured for life!' 

'I don't know why you should dwell upon it now 
it's done with/ he declared, smiling. 
[ 277 ] 


'It would be strange, would n't it, if I took it quite 
for granted all in the day's work?' She held out 
her hand : 'I am grateful please.' 

He bowed over it, laughing, again with that eight- 
eenth-century air which might have become a Chev- 
alier des Grieux. 

'May I exact a reward?' 

'Ask it.' 

'Will you take me down with you to your village? 
I know you are going. I must walk on afterwards 
and catch a midday train to Widrington. I have an 
appointment there at two o'clock. But perhaps you 
will introduce me to one or two of your poor people 

Marcella assented, went upstairs, changed her dress, 
and put on her walking-things, more than half -inclined 
all the time to press her mother to go with them. 
She was a little unstrung and tremulous, pursued by 
a feeling that she was somehow letting herself go, 
behaving disloyally and indecorously towards whom? 
towards Aldous? But how, or why? She did not 
know. But there was a curious sense of lost bloom, 
lost dignity, combined with an odd wish that Mr. 
Wharton were not going away for the day. In the 
end, however, she left her mother undisturbed. 

By the time they were halfway to the village, Mar- 
cella's uncomfortable feelings had all passed away. 
Without knowing it, she was becoming too much ab- 
sorbed in her companion to be self -critical, so long as 
they were together. It seemed to her, however, before 
they had gone more than a few hundred yards that he 
was taking advantage presuming on what had hap- 
[ 278 ] 


pened. He offended her taste, her pride, her dignity, 
in a hundred ways, she discovered. At the same time 
it was she who was always on the defensive 
protecting her dreams, her acts, her opinions, against 
the constant fire of his half -ironical questions, which 
seemed to leave her no time at all to carry the war into 
the enemy's country. He put her through a quick 
cross-examination about the village, its occupations, 
the incomes of the people, its local charities and insti- 
tutions, what she hoped to do for it, what she would 
do if she could, what she thought it possible to do. 
She answered first reluctantly, then eagerly, her pride 
all alive to show that she was not merely ignorant 
and amateurish. But it was no good. In the end he 
made her feel as Anthony Craven had constantly done 
that she knew nothing exactly, that she had not 
mastered the conditions of any one of the social 
problems she was talking about; that not only was 
her reading of no account, but that she had not even 
managed to see these people, to interpret their lives 
under her very eyes, with any large degree of insight. 
Especially was he merciless to all the Lady Bounti- 
ful pose, which meant so much to her imagination 
not in words so much as in manner. He let her see that 
all the doling and shepherding and advising that still 
pleased her fancy looked to him the merest temporary 
palliative, and irretrievably tainted, even at that, 
with some vulgar feeling or other. All that the well- 
to-do could do for the poor under the present state 
of society was but a niggardly quit-rent; as for any 
relation of 'superior' and 'inferior' in the business, or 
of any social desert attaching to these precious efforts 
[ 279 ] 


of the upper class to daub the gaps in the ruinous 
social edifice for which they were themselves respons- 
ible, he did not attempt to conceal his scorn. If you 
did not do these things, so much the worse for you 
when the working-class came to its own ; if you did do 
them, the burden of debt was hardly diminished, and 
the rope was still left on your neck. 

Now Marcella herself had on one or two occasions 
taken a malicious pleasure in flaunting these doctrines, 
or some of them, under Miss Raeburn's eyes. But 
somehow, as applied to herself, they were disagreeable. 
Each of us is to himself a 'special case'; and she saw 
the other side. Hence a constant soreness of feeling; 
a constant recalling of the argument to the personal 
point of view; and through it all a curious growth of 
intimacy, a rubbing away of barriers. She had felt 
herself of no account before, intellectually, in Aldous's 
company, as we know. But then how involuntary on 
his part, and how counterbalanced by that passionate 
idealism of his love, which glorified every pretty im- 
pulse in her to the noblest proportions ! Under Whar- 
ton's Socratic method, she was conscious at times of 
the most wild and womanish desires, worthy of her 
childhood to cry, to go into a passion ! and when 
they came to the village, and every human creature, 
old and young, dropped its obsequious curtsey as 
they passed, she could first have beaten them for so 
degrading her, and the next moment felt a feverish 
pleasure in thus parading her petty power before a 
man who in his doctrinaire pedantry had no sense of 
poetry, or of the dear old natural relations of country 

[ 280 ] 


They went first to Mrs. Jellison 's, to whom Marcella 
wished to unfold her workshop scheme. 

'Don't let me keep you/ she said to Wharton, cold- 
ly, as they neared the cottage ; ' I know you have to 
catch your train/ 

Wharton consulted his watch. He had to be at a 
local station some two miles off within an hour. 

'Oh! I have time/ he said. 'Do take me in, Miss 
Boyce. I have made acquaintance with these people 
so far, as my constituents now show them to me as 
your subjects. Besides, I am an observer. I "collect" 
peasants. They are my study/ 

'They are not my subjects, but my friends/ she 
said, with the same stiffness. 

They found Mrs. Jellison having her dinner. The 
lively old woman was sitting close against her bit of 
fire, on her left a small deal table which held her cold 
potatoes and cold bacon ; on her right a tiny window 
and window-sill whereon lay her coil of 'plait' and 
the simple straw-splitting machine she had just been 
working. When Marcella had taken the only other 
chair the hovel contained, nothing else remained for 
Wharton but to flatten himself as closely against the 
door as he might. 

'I'm sorry I can't bid yer take a cheer/ said Mrs. 
Jellison to him, 'but what yer han't got yer can't give, 
so I don't trouble my head about nothink.' 

Wharton applauded her with easy politeness, and 
then gave himself, with folded arms, to examining the 
cottage while Marcella talked. It might be ten feet 
broad, he thought, by six feet in one part and eight 
feet in another. The roof was within little more than 
[ 281 ] 


an inch of his head. The stairway in the corner was 
falling to pieces ; he wondered how the woman got up 
safely to her bed at night; custom, he supposed, can 
make even old bones agile. 

Meanwhile Marcella was unfolding the project of 
the straw-plaiting workshop that she and Lady 
Winterbourne were about to start. Mrs. Jellison put 
on her spectacles apparently that she might hear the 
better, pushed away her dinner in spite of her visitors' 
civilities, and listened with a bright and beady eye. 

'An yer a-goin to pay me one an sixpence a score, 
where I now gets ninepence. And I'll not have to 
tramp it into town no more you '11 send a man 
round. And who is a-goin to pay me, Miss, if you'll 
excuse me asking?' 

'Lady Winterbourne and I,' said Marcella, smiling. 
'We're going to employ this village and two others, 
and make as good business of it as we can. But we're 
going to begin by giving the workers better wages, 
and in time we hope to teach them the higher kinds 
of work.' 

'Lor!' said Mrs. Jellison. 'But I'm not one o' them 
as kin do with changes.' She took up her plait and 
looked at it thoughtfully. 'Eighteen-pence a score. It 
wor that rate when I wor a girl. An it ha' been dibble 
dibble iver sense; a penny off here, an a penny 
off there, an a hard job to keep a bite ov anythink in 
your mouth.' 

'Then I may put down your name among our 
workers, Mrs. Jellison?' said Marcella, rising and 
smiling down upon her. 

'Oh, Lor, no; I niver said that,' said Mrs. Jellison, 
[ 282 ] 


hastily. 'I don't hold wi shilly-shallyin wi yer 
means o' livin. I 've took my plait to Jimmy Gedge 
'im an 'is son, fust shop on yer right hand when yer 
git into town twenty-five year, summer and winter 
me an three other women, as give me a penny a 
journey for takin theirs. If I wor to go messin about 
wi Jimmy Gedge, Lor bless yer, I should 'ear ov it 
oh! I shoulden sleep o' nights for thinkin o' how 
Jimmy ud serve me out when I wor least egspectin 
ov it. He's a queer un. No, Miss, thank yer kindly; 
but I think I'll bide.' 

Marcella, amazed, began to argue a little, to ex- 
pound the many attractions of the new scheme. 
Greatly to her annoyance, Wharton came forward to 
her help, guaranteeing the solvency and permanence 
of her new partnership in glib and pleasant phrase, 
wherein her angry fancy suspected at once the note of 
irony. But Mrs. Jellison held firm, embroidering her 
negative, indeed, with her usual cheerful chatter, but 
sticking to it all the same. At last there was no way 
of saving dignity but to talk of something else and go 
above all, to talk of something else before going, 
lest the would-be benefactor should be thought a petty 

'Oh, Johnnie? thank yer, Miss 'ee's an owda- 
cious young villain as iver I seed but clever Lor, 
you'd need 'ave eyes in yer back to look after 'im. 
An coaxin! " 'Ave n't yer brought me no sweeties, 
Gran'ma?" "No, my dear," says I. "But if you was to 
look, Gran'ma in both your pockets, Gran'ma 
iv you was to let me look? " It 's a sharp un. Isabella, 
she don't 'old wi sweet-stuff, she says, sich a pack o' 
[ 283 ] 


nonsense. She'd stuff herself sick when she wor 'is 
age. Why should n't 'ee be 'appy, same as her? There 
ain't much to make a child 'appy in that 'ouse.- Westall, 
'ee's that mad about them poachers over Tudley End ; 
'ee's like a wild bull at 'ome. I told Isabella 'ee'd come 
to knockin ov her about some day, though 'ee did 
speak so oily when 'ee wor a courtin. Now she knows 
as I kin see a thing or two/ said Mrs. Jellison, signi- 
ficantly. Her manner, Wharton noticed, kept always 
the same gay philosophy, whatever subject turned up. 

'Why, that's an old story that Tudley End 
business,' said Marcella, rising. ' I should have thought 
Westall might have got over it by now.' 

'But bless yer, 'ee says it's goin on as lively as iver. 
'Ee says 'ee knows they're set on grabbin the birds 
t' other side the estate, over beyond Mellor way 'ee's 
got wind of it an 'ee's watchin night an day to 
see they don't do him no bad turn this month, bekase 
o' the big shoot they allus has in January. An, Lor, 
'ee do speak drefful bad o' soom folks,' said Mrs. 
Jellison, with an amused expression. 'You know 
some on 'em, Miss, don't yer?' And the old woman, 
who had begun toying with her potatoes, slanted her 
fork over her shoulder so as to point towards the 
Kurds' cottage, whereof the snow-laden roof could be 
seen conspicuously through the little lattice beside 
her, making sly eyes the while at her visitor. 

'I don't believe a word of it,' said Marcella, im- 
patiently. ' Hurd has been in good work since October, 
and has no need to poach. Westall has a down on him. 
You may tell him I think so, if you like.' 

'That I will,' said Mrs. Jellison, cheerfully, opening 
[ 284 ] 


the door for them. 'There's nobody makes 'im 'ear 
the treuth, nobbut me. I loves naggin ov 'im, 'ee's 
that masterful. But 'ee don't master me!' 

'A gay old thing/ said Wharton, as they shut the 
gate behind them. 'How she does enjoy the human 
spectacle. And obstinate too. But you will find the 
younger ones more amenable.' 

'Of course/ said Marcella, with dignity. 'I have a 
great many names already. The old people are always 
difficult. But Mrs. Jellison will come round/ 

'Are you going in here?' 


Wharton knocked at the Hurds' door, and Mrs. 
Kurd opened. 

The cottage was thick with smoke. The chimney 
only drew when the door was left open. But the wind 
to-day was so bitter that mother and children pre- 
ferred the smoke to the draught. Marcella soon made 
out the poor little bronchitic boy, sitting coughing by 
the fire, and Mrs. Hurd busied with some washing. 
She introduced Wharton, who, as before, stood for 
some time, hat in hand, studying the cottage. Mar- 
cella was perfectly conscious of it, and a blush rose 
to her cheek while she talked to Mrs. Hurd. For 
both this and Mrs. Jellison 's hovel were her father's 
property and somewhat highly rented. 

Minta Hurd said eagerly that she would join the 
new straw-plaiting, and went on to throw out a number 
of hurried, half -coherent remarks about the state of 
the trade past and present, leaning meanwhile against 
the table and endlessly drying her hands on the towel 
she had taken up when her visitors came in. 
[ 285 ] 


Her manner was often nervous and flighty in these 
days. She never looked happy; but Marcella put 
it down to health or natural querulousness of char- 
acter. Yet both she and the children were clearly 
better nourished, except Willie, in whom the 
tubercular tendency was fast gaining on the child's 

Altogether Marcella was proud of her work, and 
her eager interest in this little knot of people whose 
lives she had shaped was more possessive than ever. 
Hurd, indeed, was often silent and secretive; but she 
put down her difficulties with him to our odious 
system of class differences, against which in her own 
way she was struggling. One thing delighted her 
that he seemed to take more and more interest in the 
labour questions she discussed with him, and in that 
fervid, exuberant literature she provided him with. 
Moreover, he now went to all Mr. Wharton 's meetings 
that were held within reasonable distance of Mellor; 
and, as she said to Aldous with a little laugh, which, 
however, was not unsweet, he had found her man 
work she had robbed his candidate of a vote. 

Wharton listened a while to her talk with Minta, 
smiled a little, unperceived of Marcella, at the young 
mother's docilities of manner and phrase ; then turned 
his attention to the little hunched and coughing object 
by the fire. 

'Are you very bad, little man?' 

The white-faced child looked up, a dreary look, 
revealing a patient, melancholy soul. He tried to 
answer, but coughed instead. 

Wharton, moving towards him, saw a bit of ragged 
[ 286 ] 


white paper lying on the ground, which had been torn 
from a grocery parcel. 

'Would you like something to amuse you a bit 
Ugh ! this smoke ! Come round here, it won't catch us 
so much. Now, then, what do you say to a doggie 
two doggies?' 

The child stared, let himself be lifted on the strang- 
er's knee, and did his very utmost to stop coughing. 
But when he had succeeded his quick, panting breaths 
still shook his tiny frame and Wharton's knee. 

'Hm Give him two months or thereabouts!' 
thought Wharton. 'What a beastly hole ! one room 
up, and one down, like the other, only a shade larger. 
Damp, insanitary, cold bad water, bad drainage, 
I '11 be bound bad everything. That girl may well 
try her little best. And I go making up to that man 
Boyce! What for? Old spites? new spites? - 
which? or both!' 

Meanwhile his rapid skilful fingers were tearing, 
pinching, and shaping; and in a very few minutes 
there, upon his free knee, stood the most enticing 
doggie of pinched paper, a hound in full course, with 
long ears and stretching legs. 

The child gazed at it with ravishment, put out a 
weird hand, touched it, stroked it, and then, as he 
looked back at Wharton, the most exquisite smile 
dawned in his saucer-blue eyes. 

'What? did you like it, grasshopper?' cried Whar- 
ton, enchanted by the beauty of the look, his own 
colour mounting. 'Then you shall have another.' 

And he twisted and turned his piece of fresh paper, 
till there, beside the first, stood a second fairy animal 
[ 287 ] 


a greyhound this time, with arching neck and sharp 
long nose. 

'There's two on 'em at Westall's!' cried the child, 
hoarsely, clutching at his treasures in an ecstasy. 

Mrs. Hurd, at the other end of the cottage, started 
as she heard the name. Marcella noticed it ; and with 
her eager, sympathetic look began at once to talk of 
Hurd and the works at the Court. She understood 
they were doing grand things, and that the work would 
last all the winter. Minta answered hurriedly and 
with a curious choice of phrases. ' Oh ! he did n't have 
nothing to say against it.' Mr. Brown, the steward, 
seemed satisfied. All that she said was somehow ir- 
relevant; and, to Marcella's annoyance, plaintive as 
usual. Wharton, with the boy inside his arm, turned 
his head an instant to listen. 

Marcella, having thought of repeating, without 
names, some of Mrs. Jellison's gossip, then shrank 
from it. He had promised her, she thought to herself 
with a proud delicacy ; and she was not going to treat 
the word of a working-man as different from any- 
body else's. 

So she fastened her cloak again, which she had 
thrown open in the stifling air of the cottage, and 
turned both to call her companion and give a smile 
or two to the sick boy. 

But, as she did so, she stood amazed at the spectacle 
of Wharton and the child. Then, moving up to them, 
she perceived the menagerie for it had grown to 
one on Wharton's knee. 

'You didn't guess I had such tricks,' he said, 

[ 288 ] 


'But they are so good so artistic!' She took up 
a little galloping horse he had just fashioned and 
wondered at it. 

'A great-aunt taught me she was a genius I 
follow her at a long distance. Will you let me go, 
young man? You may keep all of them/ 

But the child, with a sudden contraction of the 
brow, flung a tiny stick-like arm round his neck, press- 
ing hard, and looking at him. There was a red spot in 
each wasted cheek, and his eyes were wide and happy. 
Wharton returned the look with one of quiet scrutiny 

the scrutiny of the doctor or the philosopher. On 
Marcella's quick sense the contrast of the two heads 
impressed itself the delicate youth of Wharton's 
with its clustering curls the sunken contours and 
the helpless suffering of the other. Then Wharton 
kissed the little fellow, put his animals carefully on to 
a chair beside him, and set him down. 

They walked along the snowy street again, in a 
different relation to each other. Marcella had been 
touched and charmed, and Wharton teased her no 
more. As they reached the door of the almshouse 
where the old Fattens lived, she said to him : ' I think 
I had rather go in here by myself, please. I have some 
things to give them old Patton has been very ill 
this last week but I know what you think of doles 

and I know, too, what you think, what you must 
think, of my father's cottages. It makes me feel a 
hypocrite ; yet I must do these things ; we are different, 
you and I I am sure you will miss your train P 

But there was no antagonism, only painful feeling 
in her softened look. 

[ 289 ] 


Wharton put out his hand. 

'Yes, it is time for me to go. You say I make you 
feel a hypocrite ! I wonder whether you have any idea 
what you make me feel? Do you imagine I should dare 
to say the things I have said except to one of the 
elite? Would it be worth my while, as a social reform- 
er? Are you not vowed to great destinies? When one 
comes across one of the tools of the future, must one 
not try to sharpen it, out of one's poor resources, in 
spite of manners?' 

Marcella, stirred abashed fascinated let him 
press her hand. Then he walked rapidly away towards 
the station, a faint smile twitching at his lip. 

'An inexperienced girl/ he said to himself, com- 


BEFORE she went home, Marcella turned into the 
little rectory garden to see if she could find Mary 
Harden for a minute or two. The intimacy between 
them was such that she generally found entrance to 
the house by going round to a garden door and knock- 
ing or calling. The house was very small, and Mary's 
little sitting-room was close to this door. 

Her knock brought Mary instantly. 

' Oh ! come in. You won't mind. We were just at 
dinner. Charles is going away directly. Do stay and 
talk to me a bit.' 

Marcella hesitated, but at last went in. The meals 
at the rectory distressed her the brother and sister 
showed the marks of them. To-day she found their 
usual fare carefully and prettily arranged on a spot- 
less table; some bread, cheese, and boiled rice 
nothing else. Nor did they allow themselves any fire 
for meals. Marcella, sitting beside them in her furs, 
did not feel the cold, but Mary was clearly shivering 
under her shawl. They eat meat twice a week, and 
in the afternoon Mary lit the sitting-room fire. In the 
morning she contented herself with the kitchen, where, 
as she cooked for many sick folk, and had only a girl 
of fourteen whom she was training to help her with 
the housework, she had generally much to do. 

The Rector did not stay long after her arrival. He 
had a distant visit to pay to a dying child, and hurried 
[ 291 ] 


off so as to be home, if possible, before dark. Mar- 
cella admired him, but did not feel that she under- 
stood him more as they were better acquainted. He 
was slight and young, and not very clever; but a 
certain inexpugnable dignity surrounded him, which, 
real as it was, sometimes irritated Marcella. It sat 
oddly on his round face boyish still, in spite of its 
pinched and anxious look but there it was, not to 
be ignored. Marcella thought him a Conservative, 
and very backward and ignorant in his political and 
social opinions. But she was perfectly conscious that 
she must also think him a saint ; and that the deepest 
things in him were probably not for her. 

Mr. Harden said a few words to her now as to her 
straw-plaiting scheme, which had his warmest sym- 
pathy Marcella contrasted his tone gratefully with 
that of Wharton, and once more fell happily in love 
with her own ideas then he went off, leaving the two 
girls together. 

'Have you seen Mrs. Kurd this morning?' said 

'Yes; Willie seems very bad/ 

Mary assented. 

'The doctor says he will hardly get through the 
winter, especially if this weather goes on. But the 
greatest excitement of the village just now do you 
know? is the quarrel between Hurd and Westall. 
Somebody told Charles yesterday that they never 
meet without threatening each other. Since the covers 
at Tudley End were raided, Westall seems to have 
quite lost his head. He declares Hurd knew all about 
that, and that he is hand and glove with the same 
[ 292 ] 


gang still. He vows he will catch him out, and Hurd 
told the man who told Charles that if Westall bullies 
him any more he will put a knife into him. And 
Charles says that Hurd is not a bit like he was. He 
used to be such a patient, silent creature. Now - 

'He has woke up to a few more ideas and a little 
more life than he had, that's all/ said Marcella, im- 
patiently. 'He poached last winter, and small blame 
to him. But since he got work at the Court in Novem- 
ber is it likely? He knows that he was suspected ; 
and what could be his interest now, after a hard day's 
work, to go out again at night, and run the risk of 
falling into Westall's clutches, when he does n't want 
either the food or the money?' 

'I don't know/ said Mary, shaking her head. 
'Charles says, if they once do it, they hardly ever 
leave it off altogether. It's the excitement and amuse- 
ment of it.' 

'He promised me/ said Marcella, proudly. 

'They promise Charles all sorts of things/ said 
Mary, slyly; 'but they don't keep to them/ 

Warmly grateful as both she and the Rector had 
been from the beginning to Marcella for the passionate 
interest she took in the place and the people, the sister 
was sometimes now a trifle jealous divinely jealous 
for her brother. Marcella's unbounded confidence 
in her own power and right over Mellor, her growing 
tendency to ignore anybody else's right or power, 
sometimes set Mary aflame, for Charles's sake, heartily 
and humbly as she admired her beautiful friend. 

'I shall speak to Mr. Raeburn about it/ said Mar- 

[ 293 ] 


She never called him 'Aldous' to anybody a 
stiffness which jarred a little upon the gentle, senti- 
mental Mary. 

'I saw you pass/ she said, 'from one of the top 
windows. He was with you, was n't he?' 

A slight colour sprang to her sallow cheek, a light to 
her eyes. Most wonderful, most interesting was this 
engagement to Mary, who strange to think ! had 
almost brought it about. Mr. Raeburn was to her 
one of the best and noblest of men, and she felt quite 
simply, and with a sort of Christian trembling for 
him, the romance of his great position. Was Marcella 
happy, was she proud of him, as she ought to be? Mary 
was often puzzled by her. 

'Oh no!' said Marcella, with a little laugh. 'That 
was n't Mr. Raeburn. I don't know where your eyes 
were, Mary. That was Mr. Wharton, who is staying 
with us. He has gone on to a meeting at Widrington.' 

Mary's face fell. 

'Charles says Mr. Wharton 's influence in the village 
is very bad/ she said, quickly. 'He makes everybody 
discontented; sets everybody by the ears; and, after 
all, what can he do for anybody?' 

'But that's just what he wants to do to make 
them discontented/ cried Marcella. 'Then, if they 
vote for him, that's the first practical step towards 
improving their life.' 

'But it won't give them more wages or keep them 
out of the public-house/ said Mary, bewildered. She 
came of a homely middle-class stock, accustomed to a 
small range of thinking, and a high standard of doing. 
Marcella's political opinions were an amazement, and 
[ 294 ] 


on the whole a scandal to her. She preferred generally 
to give them a wide berth. 

Marcella did not reply. It was not worth while to 
talk to Mary on these topics. But Mary stuck to the 
subject a moment longer. 

'You can't want him to get in, though?' she said, in 
a puzzled voice, as she led the way to the little sitting- 
room across the passage, and took her work-basket out 
of the cupboard. 'It was only the week before last 
Mr. Raeburn was speaking at the schoolroom for Mr. 
Dodgson. You weren't there, Marcella?' 

'No,' said Marcella, shortly. 'I thought you knew 
perfectly well, Mary, that Mr. Raeburn and I don't 
agree politically. Certainly, I hope Mr. Wharton will 
get in!' 

Mary opened her eyes in wonderment. She stared 
at Marcella, forgetting the sock she had just slipped 
over her left hand, and the darning-needle in her right. 

Marcella laughed. 

'I know you think that two people who are going 
to be married ought to say ditto to each other in 
everything. Don't you you dear old goose?' 

She came and stood beside Mary, a stately and 
beautiful creature in her loosened furs. She stroked 
Mary's straight sandy hair back from her forehead. 
Mary looked up at her with a thrill, nay, a passionate 
throb of envy soon suppressed. 

'I think,' she said, steadily, 'it is very strange 
that love should oppose and disagree with what it 

Marcella went restlessly towards the fire and began 
to examine the things on the mantelpiece. 
[ 295 ] 


'Can't people agree to differ, you sentimentalist? 
Can't they respect each other, without echoing each 
other on every subject?' 

' Respect ! ' cried Mary, with a sudden scorn, which 
was startling from a creature so soft. 

' There, she could tear me in pieces ! ' said Marcella, 
laughing, though her lip was not steady. 'I wonder 
what you would be like, Mary, if you were engaged/ 

Mary ran her needle in and out with lightning speed 
for a second or two, then she said almost under her 

' I should n't be engaged unless I were in love. And 
if I were in love, why, I would go anywhere do any- 
thing believe anything if he told me ! ' 

'Believe anything? Mary you would n't!' 

'I don't mean as to religion/ said Mary, hastily. 
'But everything else I would give it all up!- 
governing one's self, thinking for one's self. He should 
do it, and I would bless him!' 

She looked up crimson, drawing a very long breath, 
as though from some deep centre of painful, passionate 
feeling. It was Marcella's turn to stare. Never had 
Mary so revealed herself before. 

'Did you ever love any one like that, Mary?' she 
asked, quickly. 

Mary dropped her head again over her work and 
did not answer immediately. 

'Do you see/ - - she said at last, with a change of 
tone, 'do you see that we have got our invitation?' 

Marcella, about to give the rein to an eager curiosity 
Mary's manner had excited in her, felt herself pulled 
up sharply. When she chose, this little meek creature 

[ 296 ] 


could put on the same unapproachableness as her 
brother. Marcella submitted. 

'Yes, I see/ she said, taking up a card on the 
mantelpiece. 'It will be a great crush, I suppose you 
know. They have asked the whole county, it seems to 

The card bore an invitation in Miss Raeburn's 
name for the Rector and his sister to a dance at Max- 
well Court the date given was the twenty-fifth of 

'What fun!' said Mary, her eye sparkling. 'You 
need n't suppose that I know enough of balls to be 
particular. I have only been to one before in my life 
- ever. That was at Cheltenham. An aunt took 
me I did n't dance. There were hardly any men, 
but I enjoyed it.' 

'Well, you shall dance this time,' said Marcella, 
'for I will make Mr. Raeburn introduce you.' 

'Nonsense, you won't have any time to think about 
me. You will be the queen everybody will want 
to speak to you. I shall sit in a corner and look at 
you that will be enough for me.' 

Marcella went up to her quickly and kissed her, 
then she said, still holding her 

' I know you think I ought to be very happy, Mary !' 

'I should think I do!' said Mary, with astonished 
emphasis, when the voice paused ' I should think 
I do!' 

' I am happy and I want to make him happy. But 

there are so many things, so many different aims and 

motives, that complicate life, that puzzle one. One 

does n't know how much to give of one's self to each ' 

[ 297 ] 


She stood with her hand on Mary's shoulder, look- 
ing away towards the window and the snowy garden, 
her brow frowning and distressed. 

'Well, I don't understand/ said Mary, after a pause. 
'As I said before, it seems to me so plain and easy 
to be in love, and give one's self all to that. But 
you are so much cleverer than I, Marcella, you know 
so much more. That makes the difference. I can't 
be like you. Perhaps I don't want to be!' and she 
laughed. 'But I can admire you and love you, and 
think about you. There, now, tell me what you are 
going to wear?' 

'White satin, and Mr. Raeburn wants me to wear 
some pearls he is going to give me, some old pearls 
of his mother's. I believe I shall find them at Mellor 
when I get back.' 

There was little girlish pleasure in the tone. It was 
as though Marcella thought her friend would be more 
interested in her bit of news than she was herself, and 
was handing it on to her to please her. 

'Is n't there a superstition against doing that be- 
fore you're married?' said Mary, doubtfully. 

'As if I should mind if there was! But I don't 
believe there is, or Miss Raeburn would have heard of 
it. She's a mass of such things. Well! I hope I shall 
behave myself to please her at this function. There 
are not many things I do to her satisfaction; it's 
a mercy we're not going to live with her. Lord 
Maxwell is a dear ; but she and I would never get on. 
Every way of thinking she has, rubs me up the wrong 
way ; and as for her view of me, I am just a tare sown 
among her wheat. Perhaps she is right enough!' 
[ 298 ] 


Marcella leant her cheek pensively on one hand, 
and with the other played with the things on the 

Mary looked at her, and then half-smiled, half- 

' I think it is a very good thing you are to be married 
soon/ she said, with her little air of wisdom, which 
offended nobody. 'Then you'll know your own mind. 
When is it to be?' 

'The end of February after the election.' 

'Two months/ mused Mary. 

'Time enough to throw it all up in, you think?' 
said Marcella, recklessly, putting on her gloves for 
departure. 'Perhaps you'll be pleased to hear that 
I am going to a meeting of Mr. Raeburn's next week?' 

'I am glad. You ought to go to them all.' 

'Really, Mary! How am I to lift you out of this 
squaw theory of matrimony? Allow me to inform 
you that the following evening I am going to one of 
Mr. Wharton's here in the schoolroom!' 

She enjoyed her friend's disapproval. 

'By yourself, Marcella? It is n't seemly !' 

'I shall take a maid. Mr. Wharton is going to tell 
us how the people can get the land, and how, when 
they have got it, all the money that used to go in rent 
will go in taking off taxes and making life comfortable 
for the poor.' 

She looked at Mary with a teasing smile. 

'Oh ! I dare say he will make his stealing sound very 
pretty/ said Mary, with unwonted scorn, as she 
opened the front door for her friend. 

Marcella flashed out. 

[ 299 ] 


'I know you are a saint, Mary/ she said, turning 
back on the path outside to deliver her last shaft. 'I 
am often not so sure whether you are a Christian!' 

Then she hurried off without another word, leaving 
the flushed and shaken Mary to ponder this strange 

Marcella was just turning into the straight drive 
which led past the church on the left to Mellor House, 
when she heard footsteps behind her, and, looking 
round, she saw Edward Hallin. 

'Will you give me some lunch, Miss Boyce, in return 
for a message? I am here instead of Aldous, who is 
very sorry for himself, and will be over later. I am 
to tell you that he went down to the station to meet 
a certain box. The box did not come, but will come 
this afternoon ; so he waits for it, and will bring it over.' 

Marcella flushed, smiled, and said she understood. 
Hallin moved on beside her, evidently glad of the 
opportunity of a talk with her. 

'We are all going together to the Gairsley meeting 
next week, are n't we? I am so glad you are coming. 
Aldous will do his best.' 

There was something very winning in his tone to 
her. It implied both his old and peculiar friendship 
for Aldous, and his eager wish to find a new friend 
in her to adopt her into their comradeship. Some- 
thing very winning, too, in his whole personality - 
in the loosely knit, nervous figure, the irregular charm 
of feature, the benignant eyes and brow even in the 
suggestions of physical delicacy, cheerfully concealed, 
yet none the less evident. The whole balance of Mar- 

[ 300 ] 


cella's temper changed in some sort as she talked to 
him. She found herself wanting to please, instead of 
wanting to conquer, to make an effect. 

'You have just come from the village, I think?* 
said Hallin. ' Aldous tells me you take a great interest 
in the people?' 

He looked at her kindly, the look of one who saw 
all his fellow-creatures nobly, as it were, and to their 
best advantage. 

'One may take an interest/ she said, in a dissatisfied 
voice, poking at the snow crystals on the road before 
her with the thorn-stick she carried, 'but one can do 
so little. And I don't know anything ; not even what 
I want myself/ 

'No; one can do next to nothing. And systems and 
theories don't matter, or, at least, very little. Yet, 
when you and Aldous are together, there will be more 
chance of doing, for you than for most. You will be 
two happy and powerful people! His power will 
be doubled by happiness; I have always known that.' 

Marcella was seized with shyness, looked away, and 
did not know what to answer. At last she said abruptly 
her head still turned to the woods on her left 

'Are you sure he is going to be happy?' 

'Shall I produce his letter to me?' he said, banter- 
ing 'or letters? For I knew a great deal about you 
before October 5, ' their engagement-day, ' and sus- 
pected what was going to happen long before Aldous 
did. No; after all, no! Those letters are my last bit 
of the old friendship. But the new began that same 
day,' he hastened to add, smiling: 'it may be richer 
than the old; I don't know. It depends on you.' 
[ 301 ] 


'I don't think I am a very satisfactory friend/ 
said Marcella, still awkward, and speaking with dif- 

'Well, let me find out, won't you? I don't think 
Aldous would call me exacting. I believe he would 
give me a decent character, though I tease him a good 
deal. You must let me tell you some time what he 
did for me what he was to me at Cambridge? 
I shall always feel sorry for Aldous's wife that she 
did not know him at college.' 

A shock went through Marcella at the word that 
tremendous word wife. As Hallin said it, there was 
something intolerable in the claim it made ! 

'I should like you to tell me,' she said faintly. Then 
she added, with more energy and a sudden advance 
of friendliness, ' But you really must come in and rest. 
Aldous told me he thought the walk from the Court 
was too much for you. Shall we take this short way?' 

And she opened a little gate leading to a door at 
the side of the house through the Cedar Garden. The 
narrow path only admitted of single file, and Hallin 
followed her, admiring her tall youth and the fine 
black-and-white of her head and cheek as she turned 
every now and then to speak to him. He realised 
more vividly than before the rare, exciting elements 
of her beauty, and the truth in Aldous's comparison of 
her to one of the tall women in a Florentine fresco. 
But he felt himself a good deal baffled by her, all the 
same. In some ways, so far as any man who is not a 
lover can understand such things, he understood why 
Aldous had fallen in love with her ; in others, she bore 
no relation whatever to the woman his thoughts had 
[ 302 ] 


been shaping all these years as his friend's fit and 
natural wife. 

Luncheon passed as easily as any meal could be 
expected to do, of which Mr. Boyce was partial pre- 
sident. During the preceding month or two he had 
definitely assumed the character of an invalid, al- 
though to inexperienced eyes like Marcella's there did 
not seem to be very much the matter. But, whatever 
the facts might be, Mr. Boyce 's adroit use of them had 
made a great difference to his position in his own 
household. His wife's sarcastic freedom of manner 
was less apparent ; and he was obviously less in awe of 
her. Meanwhile he was as sore as ever towards the 
Raeburns, and no more inclined to take any particular 
pleasure in Marcella's prospects, or to make himself 
agreeable towards his future son-in-law. He and Mrs. 
Boyce had been formally asked in Miss Raeburn's 
best hand to the Court ball, but he had at once snap- 
pishly announced his intention of staying at home. 
Marcella sometimes looked back with astonishment to 
his eagerness for social notice when they first came 
to Mellor. Clearly the rising irritability of illness had 
made it doubly unpleasant to him to owe all that he 
was likely to get on that score to his own daughter; 
and, moreover, he had learnt to occupy himself more 
continuously on his own land and "with his own affairs, 

As to the state of the village, neither Marcella's 
entreaties nor reproaches had any effect upon him. 
When it appeared certain that he would be summoned 
for some especially flagrant piece of neglect he would 
spend a few shillings on repairs ; otherwise not a far- 
thing. All that filial softening towards him of which 
[ 303 ] 


Marcella had been conscious in the early autumn had 
died away in her. She said to herself now plainly and 
bitterly that it was a misfortune to belong to him; 
and she would have pitied her mother most heartily 
if her mother had ever allowed her the smallest ex- 
pression of such a feeling. As it was, she was left to 
wonder and chafe at her mother's new-born mildness. 

In the drawing-room, after luncheon, Hallin came 
up to Marcella in a corner, and, smiling, drew from 
his pocket a folded sheet of foolscap. 

'I made Aldous give me his speech to show you, 
before to-morrow night/ he said. 'He would hardly 
let me take it, said it was stupid, and that you would 
not agree with it. But I wanted you to see how he 
does these things. He speaks now, on an average, two 
or three times a week. Each time, even for an audience 
of a score or two of village folk, he writes out what 
he has to say. Then he speaks it entirely without notes. 
In this way, though he has not much natural gift, he 
is making himself gradually an effective and practical 
speaker. The danger with him, of course, is lest he 
should be over-subtle and over-critical not simple 
and popular enough/ 

Marcella took the paper half -unwillingly and glanced 
over it in silence. 

'You are sorry he is a Tory, is that it?' he said to 
her, but in a lower voice, and sitting down beside her. 

Mrs. Boyce, just catching the words from where she 
sat with her work, at the further side of the room, 
looked up with a double wonder wonder at Mar- 
cella's folly, wonder still more at the deference with 
which men like Aldous Raeburn and Hallin treated 
[ 304 ] 


her. It was inevitable, of course youth and 
beauty rule the world. But the mother, under no 
spell herself, and of keen, cool wit, resented the 
intellectual confusion, the lowering of standards 

'I suppose so/ said Marcella, stupidly, in answer 
to Hallin's question, fidgeting the papers under her 
hand. Then his curious confessor's gift, his quiet ques- 
tioning look with its sensitive human interest to all 
before him, told upon her. 

'I am sorry he does not look further ahead, to the 
great changes that must come/ she added, hurriedly. 
'This is all about details, palliatives. I want him to be 
more impatient/ 

'Great political changes you mean?' 

She nodded ; then added 

'But only for the sake, of course, of great social 
changes to come after/ 

He pondered a moment. 

'Aldous has never believed in great changes coming 
suddenly. He constantly looks upon me as rash in 
the things I adopt and believe in. But for the con- 
triving, unceasing effort of every day to make that 
part of the social machine in which a man finds himself 
work better and more equitably, I have never seen 
Aldous's equal for the steady passion, the persist- 
ence, of it.' 

She looked up. His pale face had taken to itself 
glow and fire; his eyes were full of strenuous, nay, 
severe expression. Her foolish pride rebelled a little. 

'Of course, I haven't seen much of that yet/ she 
said, slowly. 

[ 305 ] 


His look for a moment was indignant, incredulous, 
then melted into a charming eagerness. 

' But you will ! naturally you will ! see everything. 
I hug myself sometimes now for pure pleasure that 
some one besides his grandfather and I will .know what 
Aldous is and does. Oh! the people on the estate 
know; his neighbours are beginning to know; and now 
that he is going into Parliament, the country will know 
some day, if work and high intelligence have the power 
I believe. But I am impatient ! In the first place - 
I may say it to you, Miss Boyce! I want Aldous to 
come out of that manner of his to strangers, which is 
the only bit of the true Tory in him ; you can get rid of 
it, no one else can how long shall I give you? - 
And in the next, I want the world not to be wasting 
itself on baser stuff when it might be praising Aldous !' 

'Does he mean Mr. Wharton?' thought Marcella, 
quickly. ' But this world our world hates him and 
runs him down.' 

But she had no time to answer, for the door opened 
to admit Aldous, flushed and bright-eyed, looking 
round the room immediately for her, and bearing a 
parcel in his left hand. 

'Does she love him at all?' thought Hallin, with a 
nervous stiffening of all his lithe frame, as he walked 
away to talk to Mrs. Boyce, 'or, in spite of all her fine 
talk, is she just marrying him for his money and 

Meanwhile, Aldous had drawn Marcella into the 
Stone Parlour and was standing by the fire with his 
arm covetously round her. 

'I have lost two hours with you I might have had, 
[ 306 ] 


just because a tiresome man missed his train. Make 
up for it by liking these pretty things a little, for my 
sake and my mother's/ 

He opened the jeweller's case, took out the fine old 
pearls necklace and bracelets it contained, and 
put them into her hand. They were his first consid- 
erable gift to her, and had been chosen for associa- 
tion's sake, seeing that his mother had also worn them 
before her marriage. 

She flushed first of all with a natural pleasure, the 
girl delighting in her gaud. Then she allowed herself 
to be kissed, which was, indeed, inevitable. Finally 
she turned them over and over in her hands; and he 
began to be puzzled by her. 

'They are much too good for me. I don't know 
whether you ought to give me such precious things. 
I am dreadfully careless and forgetful. Mamma 
always says so/ 

'I shall want you to wear them so often that you 
won't have a chance of forgetting them/ he said, gaily. 

'Will you? Will you want me to wear them so 
often?' she asked, in an odd voice. 'Anyway, I should 
like to have just these, and nothing else. I am glad 
that we know nobody, and have no friends, and that 
I shall have so few presents. You won't give me many 
jewels, will you?' she said suddenly, insistently, turn- 
ing to him. ' I should n't know what to do with them. 
I used to have a magpie's wish for them ; and now 
I don't know, but they don't give me pleasure. Not 
these, of course not these!' she added hurriedly, 
taking them up and beginning to fasten the bracelets 
on her wrists. 

[ 307 ] 


Aldous looked perplexed. 

'My darling!' he said, half -laughing, and in the tone 
of the apologist, 'you know we have such a lot of 
things. And I am afraid my grandfather will want to 
give them all to you. Need one think so much about 
it? It is n't as though they had to be bought fresh. 
They go with pretty gowns, don't they, and other 
people like to see them?' 

'No, but it's what they imply the wealth the 
having so much while other people want so much. 
Things begin to oppress me so!' she broke out, in- 
stinctively moving away from him that she might 
express herself with more energy. 'I like luxuries so 
desperately, and when I get them I seem to myself 
now the vulgarest creature alive, who has no right to 
an opinion or an enthusiasm, or anything else worth 
having. You must not let me like them you must 
help me not to care about them!' 

Raeburn's eye as he looked at her was tenderness 
itself. He could of course neither mock her, nor put 
what she said aside. This question she had raised, 
this most thorny of all the personal questions of the 
present the ethical relation of the individual to the 
World's Fair and its vanities was, as it happened, 
a question far more sternly and robustly real to him 
than it was to her. Every word in his few sentences, 
as they stood talking by the fire, bore on it for a 
practised ear the signs of a long wrestle of the heart. 

But to Marcella it sounded tame; her ear was 
haunted by the fragments of another tune which she 
seemed to be perpetually trying to recall and piece 
together. Aldous's slow minor made her impatient. 
[ 308 ] 


He turned presently to ask her what she had been 
doing with her morning asking her with a certain 
precision, and observing her attentively. She replied 
that she had been showing Mr. Wharton the house, 
that he had walked down with her to the village, and 
was gone to a meeting at Widrington. Then she 
remarked that he was very good company, and very 
clever, but dreadfully sure of his own opinion. Finally 
she laughed, and said dryly : 

'There will be no putting him down, all the same. 
I have n't told anybody yet, but he saved my life this 

Aldous caught her wrists. 

'Saved your life ! Dear what do you mean?' 

She explained, giving the little incident all 
perhaps more than its dramatic due. He listened 
with evident annoyance, and stood pondering when 
she came to an end. 

'So I shall be expected to take quite a dif- 
ferent view of him henceforward?' he inquired 
at last, looking round at her, with a very forced 

' I am sure I don't know that it matters to him what 
view anybody takes of him,' she cried, flushing. 'He 
certainly takes the frankest views of other people, and 
expresses them.' 

And while she played with the pearls in their box 
she gave a vivid account of her morning's talk with 
the Radical candidate for West Brookshire, and of 
their village expedition. 

There was a certain relief in describing the scorn 
with which her acts and ideals had been treated ; and, 
[ 309 ] 


underneath, a woman's curiosity as to how Aldous 
would take it. 

' I don't know what business he had to express him- 
self so frankly/ said Aldous, turning to the fire and 
carefully putting it together. ' He hardly knows you - 
it was, I think, an impertinence.' 

He stood upright, with his back to the hearth; a 
strong, capable, frowning Englishman, very much on 
his dignity. Such a moment must surely have become 
him in the eyes of a girl that loved him. Marcella 
proved restive under it. 

'No; it's very natural/ she protested quickly. 
'When people are so much in earnest they don't stop 
to think about impertinence! I never met any one 
who dug up one's thoughts by the roots as he does.' 

Aldous was startled by her flush, her sudden atti- 
tude of opposition. His intermittent lack of readiness 
overtook him, and there was an awkward silence. 
Then, pulling himself together with a strong hand, he 
left the subject and began to talk of her straw-plaiting 
scheme, of the Gairsley meeting, and of Hallin. But 
in the middle Marcella unexpectedly said : 

'I wish you would tell me, seriously, what reasons 
you have for not liking Mr. Wharton? other than 
politics, I mean?' 

Her black eyes fixed him with a keen insistence. 

He was silent a moment with surprise; then he 

'I had rather not rake up old scores.' 

She shrugged her shoulders, and he was roused to 
come and put his arm round her again, she shrinking 
and turning her reddened face away. 
[ 310 ] 


'Dearest/ he said, 'you shall put me in charity with 
all the world. But the worst of it is/ he added, half- 
laughing, 'that I don't see how I am to help disliking 
him doubly henceforward for having had the luck to 
put that fire out instead of me 1 / 


A FEW busy and eventful weeks, days never for- 
gotten by Marcella in after years, passed quickly by. 
Parliament met in the third week of January. Minis- 
ters, according to universal expectation, found them- 
selves confronted by a damaging amendment on the 
Address, and were defeated by a small majority. A 
dissolution and appeal to the country followed im- 
mediately, and the meetings and speech-makings, 
already active throughout the constituencies, were 
carried forward with redoubled energy. In the Tudley 
End division, Aldous Raeburn was fighting a some- 
what younger opponent of the same country-gentle- 
man stock a former fag indeed of his at Eton - 
whose zeal and fluency gave him plenty to do. Under 
ordinary circumstances Aldous would have thrown 
himself with all his heart and mind into a contest 
which involved for him the most stimulating of possi- 
bilities, personal and public. But, as these days went 
over, he found his appetite for the struggle flagging, 
and was harassed rather than spurred by his adver- 
sary's activity. The real truth was that he could not 
see enough of Marcella! A curious uncertainty and 
unreality, moreover, seemed to have crept into some 
of their relations; and it had begun to gall and fever 
him that Wharton should be staying there, week after 
week, beside her, in her father's house, able to spend 
all the free intervals of the fight in her society, strength- 
[ 312 ] 


ening an influence which Raeburn's pride and delicacy 
had hardly allowed him as yet, in spite of his instinct- 
ive jealousy from the beginning, to take into his 
thoughts at all, but which was now apparent, not only 
to himself but to others. 

In vain did he spend every possible hour at Mellor 
he could snatch from a conflict in which his party, his 
grandfather, and his own personal fortunes were all 
deeply interested. In vain with a tardy instinct 
that it was to Mr. Boyce's dislike of himself, and to 
the wilful fancy for Wharton's society which this dis- 
like had promoted, that Wharton's long stay at Mellor 
was largely owing did Aldous subdue himself to 
propitiations and amenities wholly foreign to a strong 
character long accustomed to rule without thinking 
about it. Mr. Boyce showed himself not a whit less 
partial to Wharton than before; pressed him at least 
twice in Raeburn's hearing to make Mellor his head- 
quarters so long as it suited him, and behaved with 
an irritable malice with regard to some of the details of 
the wedding arrangements, which neither Mrs. Boyce's 
indignation nor Marcella's discomfort and annoyance 
could restrain. Clearly there was in him a strong con- 
sciousness that by his attentions to the Radical can- 
didate he was asserting his independence of the Rae- 
burns, and nothing for the moment seemed to be more 
of an object with him, even though his daughter was 
going to marry the Raeburns' heir. Meanwhile, Whar- 
ton was always ready to walk or chat or play billiards 
with his host in the intervals of his own campaign; 
and his society had thus come to count considerably 
among the scanty daily pleasures of a sickly and dis- 
[ 313 ] 


appointed man. Mrs. Boyce did not like her guest, and 
took no pains to disguise it, least of all from Wharton. 
But it seemed to be no longer possible for her to take 
the vigorous measures she would once have taken to 
get rid of him. 

In vain, too, did Miss Raeburn do her best for the 
nephew to whom she was still devoted, in spite of his 
deplorable choice of a wife. She took in the situation 
as a whole probably sooner than anybody else, and 
she instantly made heroic efforts to see more of Mar- 
cella, to get her to come oftener to the Court, and in 
many various ways to procure the poor deluded 
Aldous more of his betrothed 's society. She paid 
many chattering and fussy visits to Mellor visits 
which chafed Marcella and before long, indeed, 
roused a certain suspicion in the girl's wilful mind. 
Between Miss Raeburn and Mrs. Boyce there was a 
curious understanding. It was always tacit, and never 
amounted to -friendship, still less to intimacy. But 
it often yielded a certain melancholy consolation to 
Aldous Raeburn 's great-aunt. It was clear to her that 
this strange mother was just as much convinced as 
she was that Aldous was making a great mistake, and 
that Marcella was not worthy of him. But the engage- 
ment being there a fact not apparently to be undone 
both ladies showed themselves disposed to take 
pains with it, to protect it against aggression. Mrs. 
Boyce found herself becoming more of a chaperon 
than she had ever yet professed to be; and Miss 
Raeburn, as we have said, made repeated efforts 
to capture Marcella and hold her for Aldous, her 
lawful master. 

[ 314 ] 


But Marcella proved extremely difficult to manage. 
In the first place she was a young person of many en- 
gagements. Her village scheme absorbed a great deal 
of time. She was deep in a varied correspondence, in 
the engagement of teachers, the provision of work- 
rooms, the collecting and registering of workers, the 
organisation of local committees and so forth. New 
sides of the girl's character, new capacities and cap- 
abilities were coming out; new forms of her natural 
power over her fellows were developing every day; 
she was beginning, under the incessant stimulus of 
Wharton's talk, to read and think on social and 
economic subjects, with some system and coherence, 
and it was evident that she took a passionate mental 
pleasure in it all. And the more pleasure these activ- 
ities gave her, the less she had to spare for those 
accompaniments of her engagement and her position 
that was to be, which once, as Mrs. Boyce's sharp 
eyes perceived, had been quite normally attractive to 

'Why do you take up her time so, with all these 
things?' said Miss Raeburn, impatiently, to Lady 
Winterbourne, who was now Marcella's obedient 
helper in everything she chose to initiate. 'She 
does n't care for anything she ought to care about at 
this time, and Aldous sees nothing of her. As for her 
trousseau, Mrs. Boyce declares she has had to do it 
all. Marcella won't even go up to London to have 
her wedding-dress fitted!' 

Lady Winterbourne looked up bewildered. 

'But I can't make her go and have her wedding- 
dress fitted, Agneta ! And I always feel you don't know 
[ 315 ] 


what a fine creature she is. You don't really appreciate 
her. It's splendid the ideas she has about this work, 
and the way she throws herself into it.' 

'I dare say!' said Miss Raeburn, indignantly. 
'That's just what I object to. Why can't she throw 
herself into being in love with Aldous! That's her 
business, I imagine, just now if she were a young 
woman like anybody else one had ever seen instead 
of holding aloof from everything he does, and never 
being there when he wants her. Oh ! I have no patience 
with her. But, of course, I must' said Miss Raeburn, 
hastily correcting herself 'of course, I must have 

'It will all come right, I am sure, when they are 
married,' said Lady Winterbourne, rather helplessly. 

'That's just what my brother says/ cried Miss Rae- 
burn, exasperated. 'He won't hear a word declares 
she is odd and original, and that Aldous will soon know 
how to manage her. It's all very well; nowadays men 
don't manage their wives; that's all gone with the rest. 
And I am sure, my dear, if she behaves after she is 
married as she is doing now, with that most objection- 
able person Mr. Wharton walking, and talking, and 
taking up his ideas, and going to his meetings she'll 
be a handful for any husband/ 

'Mr. Wharton!' said Lady Winterbourne, aston- 
ished. Her absent black eyes, the eyes of the 
dreamer, of the person who lives by a few intense 
affections, saw little or nothing of what was going on 
immediately under them. 'Oh ! but that is because he 
is staying in the house, and he is a Socialist; she calls 
herself one ' 

[ 316 ] 


'My dear/ said Miss Raeburn, interrupting emphat- 
ically; 'if you had now --an unmarried 
daughter at home engaged or not would you 
care to have Harry Wharton hanging about after 

'Harry Wharton?' said the other, pondering; 'he is 
the Levens' cousin, is n't he? he used to stay with 
them. I don't think I have seen him since then. But 
yes, I do remember ; there was something something 

She stopped with a hesitating, interrogative air. 
No one talked less scandal, no one put the uglinesses of 
life away from her with a hastier hand than Lady 
Winterbourne. She was one of the most consistent of 
moral epicures. 

'Yes, extremely disagreeable/ said Miss Raeburn, 
sitting bolt upright. 'The man has no principles - 
never had any, since he was a child in petticoats. I 
know Aldous thinks him unscrupulous in politics and 
everything else. And then, just when you are worked 
to death, and have hardly a moment for your own 
affairs, to have a man of that type always at hand to 
spend odd times with your lady-love flattering her, 
engaging her in his ridiculous schemes, encouraging 
her in all the extravagances she has got her head twice 
too full of already, setting her against your own ideas 
and the life she will have to live you will admit that 
it is not exactly soothing 1 / 

'Poor Aldous!' said Lady Winterbourne, thought- 
fully, looking far ahead with her odd look of absent 
rigidity, which had in reality so little to do with a 
character essentially soft; 'but you see he did know 
[ 317 ] 


all about her opinions. And I don't think no, I 
really don't think I could speak to her.' 

In truth, this woman of nearly seventy old in 
years, but wholly young in temperament was al- 
together under Marcella's spell more at ease with 
her already than with most of her own children, find- 
ing in her satisfaction for a hundred instincts, sup- 
pressed or starved by her own environment, fascinated 
by the girl's friendship, and eagerly grateful for her 
visits. Miss Raeburn thought it all both incompre- 
hensible and silly. 

'Apparently no one can!' cried that lady in answer 
to her friend's demurrer; 'is all the world afraid of 

And she departed in wrath. But she knew, never- 
theless, that she was just as much afraid of Marcella 
as anybody else. In her own sphere at the Court, or in 
points connected with what was due to the family, or 
to Lord Maxwell especially, as the head of it, this 
short, capable old lady could hold her own amply with 
Aldous's betrothed, could maintain, indeed, a sharp 
and caustic dignity, which kept Marcella very much 
in order. Miss Raeburn, on the defensive, was strong ; 
but when it came to attacking Marcella's own ideas 
and proceedings, Lord Maxwell's sister became 
shrewdly conscious of her own weaknesses. She had 
no wish to measure her wits on any general field with 
Marcella's. She said to herself that the girl was too 
clever and would talk you down. 

Meanwhile, things went untowardly in various ways. 
Marcella disciplined herself before the Gairsley meet- 
ing, and went thither resolved to give Aldous as much 
[ 318 ] 


sympathy as she could. But the performance only 
repelled a mind over which Wharton was every day 
gaining more influence. There was a portly baronet 
in the chair; there were various Primrose Dames 
on the platform and among the audience; there was 
a considerable representation of clergy; and the 
labourers present seemed to Marcella the most ob- 
sequious of their kind. Aldous spoke well or so the 
audience seemed to think; but she could feel no en- 
thusiasm for anything that he said. She gathered that 
.he advocated a Government inspection of cottages, 
more stringent precautions against cattle disease, 
better technical instruction, a more abundant pro- 
vision of allotments and small freeholds, etc. ; and he 
said many cordial and wise-sounding things in praise 
of a progress which should go safely and wisely from 
step to step, and run no risks of dangerous reaction. 
But the assumptions on which, as she told herself 
rebelliously, it all went that the rich and the edu- 
cated must rule, and the poor obey; that existing 
classes and rights, the forces of individualism and 
competition, must and would go on pretty much as 
they were; that great houses and great people, the 
English land and game system, and all the rest of our 
odious class paraphernalia were in the order of the 
universe; these ideas, conceived as the furniture of 
Aldous's mind, threw her again into a ferment of 
passionate opposition. And when the noble baronet 
in the chair to her eye, a pompous, frock-coated 
stick, sacrificing his after-dinner sleep for once, that 
he might the more effectually secure it in the future 
proposed a vote of confidence in the Conservative 
[ 319 ] 


candidate; when the vote was carried with much 
cheering and rattling of feet; when the Primrose 
Dames on the platform smiled graciously down upon 
the meeting as one smiles at good children in their 
moments of pretty behaviour; and when, finally, 
scores of toil-stained labourers, young and old, went 
up to have a word and a hand-shake with 'Muster 
Raeburn/ Marcella held herself aloof and cold, with 
a look that threatened sarcasm should she be spoken 
to. Miss Raeburn, glancing furtively round at her, 
was outraged anew by her expression. 

'She will be a thorn in all our sides/ thought that 
lady. ' Aldous is a fool ! a poor dear noble misguided 

Then on the way home, she and Aldous drove to- 
gether. Marcella tried to argue, grew vehement, and 
said bitter things for the sake of victory, till at last 
Aldous, tired, worried, and deeply wounded, could 
bear it no longer. 

'Let it be, dear, let it be!' he entreated, snatching 
at her hand as they rolled along through a stormy 
night. 'We grope in a dark world you see some 
points of light in it, I see others won't you give me 
credit for doing what I can seeing what I can? I am 
sure sure you will find it easier to bear with 
differences when we are quite together when there 
are no longer all these hateful duties and engagements 
- and persons between us.' 

'Persons! I don't know what you mean!' said 

Aldous only just restrained himself in time. Out of 
sheer fatigue and slackness of nerve he had been all 
[ 320 ] 


but betrayed into some angry speech on the subject 
of Wharton, the echoes of whose fantastic talk, as it 
seemed to him, were always hanging about Mellor 
when he went there. But he did refrain, and was 
thankful. That he was indeed jealous and disturbed, 
that he had been jealous and disturbed from the mo- 
ment Harry Wharton had set foot in Mellor, he him- 
self knew quite well. But to play the jealous part in 
public was more than the Raeburn pride could bear. 
There was the dread, too, of defining the situation 
of striking some vulgar, irrevocable note. 

So he parried Marcella's exclamation by asking her 
whether she had any idea how many human hands a 
parliamentary candidate had to shake between break- 
fast and bed; and then, having so slipped into 
another tone, he tried to amuse himself and her by 
some of the daily humours of the contest. She lent 
herself to it and laughed, her look mostly turned away 
from him, as though she were following the light of 
the carriage-lamps as it slipped along the snow-laden 
hedges, her hand lying limply in his. But neither was 
really gay. His soreness of mind grew as in the pauses 
of talk he came to realise more exactly the failure of 
the evening of his very successful and encouraging 
meeting from his own private point of view. 

'Didn't you like that last speech?' he broke out 
suddenly 'that labourer's speech? I thought you 
would. It was entirely his own idea nobody asked 
him to do it.' 

In reality Gairsley represented a corner of the estate 
which Aldous had specially made his own. He had 
spent much labour and thought on the improvement 
[ 321 ] 


of what had been a backward district, and in par- 
ticular he had tried a small profit-sharing experiment 
upon a farm there which he had taken into his own 
hands for the purpose. The experiment had met with 
fair success, and the labourer in question, who was one 
of the workers in it, had volunteered some approving 
remarks upon it at the meeting. 

'Oh! it was very proper and respectful!' said Mar- 
cella, hastily. 

The carriage rolled on some yards before Aldous 
replied. Then he spoke in a drier tone than he had 
ever yet used to her. 

'You do it injustice, I think. The man is perfectly 
independent, and an honest fellow. I was grateful to 
him for what he said/ 

'Of course, I am no judge!' cried Marcella, quickly 
-repentantly. 'Why did you ask me? I saw every- 
thing crooked, I suppose it was your Primrose Dames 
they got upon my nerves. Why did you have them? 
I did n't mean to vex and hurt you I did n't indeed 
it was all the other way and now I have.' 

She turned upon him laughing, but also half -crying, 
as he could tell by the flutter of her breath. 

He vowed he was not hurt, and once more changed 
both talk and tone. They reached the drive's end with- 
out a word of Wharton. But Marcella went to bed 
hating herself; and Aldous, after his solitary drive 
home, sat up long and late, feverishly pacing and 

Then next evening how differently things fell ! 
Marcella, having spent the afternoon at the Court, 
[ 322 ] 


hearing all the final arrangements for the ball, and 
bearing with Miss Raeburn in a way which astonished 
herself, came home full of sense of a duty done, and 
announced to her mother that she was going to Mr. 
Wharton's meeting in the Baptist chapel that evening. 

'Unnecessary, don't you think?' said Mrs. Boyce, 
lifting her eyebrows. 'However, if you go, I shall go 
with you/ 

Most mothers, dealing with a girl of twenty-one, 
under the circumstances, would have said, 'I had 
rather you stayed at home.' Mrs. Boyce never em- 
ployed locutions of this kind. She recognised with 
perfect calmness that Marcella's bringing-up, and 
especially her independent years in London, had 
made it impossible. 

Marcella fidgeted. 

'I don't know why you should, mamma. Papa 
will be sure to want you. Of course, I shall take 

'Please order dinner a quarter of an hour earlier, 
and tell Deacon to bring down my walking-things to 
the hall,' was all Mrs. Boyce said in answer. 

Marcella walked upstairs with her head very stiff. 
So her mother, and Miss Raeburn too, thought it neces- 
sary to keep watch on her. How preposterous ! She 
thought of her free and easy relations with her Ken- 
sington student-friends, and wondered when a more 
reasonable idea of the relations between men and 
women would begin to penetrate English country so- 

Mr. Boyce talked recklessly of going too. 

'Of course, I know he will spout seditious nonsense/ 
[ 323 ] 


he said irritably to his wife, 'but it's the fellow's 
power of talk that is so astonishing. He is n't troubled 
with your Raeburn heaviness.' 

Marcella came into the room as the discussion was 
going on. 

' If papa goes/ she said in an undertone to her mother 
as she passed her, 'it will spoil the meeting. The 
labourers will turn sulky. I should n't wonder if they 
did or said something unpleasant. As it is, you had 
much better not come, mamma. They are sure to 
attack the cottages and other things.' 

Mrs. Boyce took no notice as far as she herself was 
concerned, but her quiet decision at last succeeded 
in leaving Mr. Boyce safely settled by the fire, 
provided as usual with a cigarette and a French 

The meeting was held in a little iron Baptist chapel, 
erected some few years before on the outskirts of the 
village, to the grief and scandal of Mr. Harden. There 
were about a hundred and twenty labourers present, 
and at the back some boys and girls, come to giggle 
and make a noise nobody else. The Baptist minis- 
ter, a smooth-faced young man, possessed, as it turned 
out, of opinions little short of Wharton's own in point 
of vigour and rigour, was already in command, A few 
late comers, as they slouched in, stole side looks at 
Marcella and the veiled lady in black beside her, sit- 
ting in the corner of the last bench ; and Marcella nodded 
to one or two of the audience, Jim Kurd amongst 
them. Otherwise no one took any notice of them. It 
was the first time that Mrs. Boyce had been inside 
any building belonging to the village. 
[ 324 ] 


Wharton arrived late. He had been canvassing at 
a distance, and neither of the Mellor ladies had seen 
him all day. He slipped up the bench with a bow and 
a smile to greet them. 'I am done!' he said to 
Marcella, as he took off his hat. 'My voice is 
gone, my mind ditto. I shall drivel for half an 
hour and let them go. Did you ever see such a 
stolid set?' 

'You will rouse them/ said Marcella. 

Her eyes were animated, her colour high, and she 
took no account at all of his plea of weariness. 

'You challenge me? I must rouse them that was 
what you came to see? Is that it?' 

She laughed and made no answer. He left her and 
went up to the minister's desk, the men shuffling their 
feet a little, and rattling a stick here and there as he 
did so. 

The young minister took the chair and introduced 
the speaker. He had a strong Yorkshire accent, and 
his speech was divided between the most vehement 
attacks, couched in the most Scriptural language, upon 
capital and privilege that is to say, on landlords 
and the land system, on State churches and the 'idle 
rich/ interspersed with quavering returns upon him- 
self, as though he were scared by his own invective. 
'My brothers, let us be calm!' he would say after every 
burst of passion, with a long, deep-voiced emphasis 
on the last word; 'let us, above all things, be calm!' 
and then bit by bit voice and denunciation would 
begin to mount again towards a fresh climax of loud- 
voiced attack, only to sink again to the same lamb-like 
refrain. Mrs. Boyce's thin lip twitched, and Marcella 
[ 325 ] 


bore the good gentleman a grudge for providing her 
mother with so much unnecessary amusement. 

As for Wharton, at the opening of his speech he 
spoke both awkwardly and flatly; and Marcella had 
a momentary shock. He was, as he said, tired, and his 
wits were not at command. He began with the general 
political programme of the party to which on its 
extreme left wing he proclaimed himself to belong. 
This programme was, of course, by now a newspaper 
commonplace of the stalest sort. He himself recited 
it without enthusiasm, and it was received without 
a spark, so far as appeared, of interest or agreement. 
The minister gave an 'Hear! Hear ! ' of a loud official 
sort ; the men made no sign. 

'They might be a set of Dutch cheeses!' thought 
Marcella, indignantly, after a while. 'But, after all, 
why should they care for all this? I shall have to get 
up in a minute and stop those children romping/ 

But through all this, as it were, Wharjton was only 
waiting for his second wind. There came a moment 
when, dropping his quasi-official and high political 
tone, he said suddenly with another voice and 
emphasis : 

'Well now, my men, I'll be bound you're thinking, 
"That's all pretty enough! we have n't got any- 
thing against it we dare say it's all right; but we 
don't care a brass ha'porth about any of it! If that's 
all you've got to say to us, you might have let us bide 
at home. We don't have none too much time to rest 
our bones a bit by the fire, and talk to the missus and 
the kids. Why did n't you let us alone, instead of 
bringing us out in the cold?" 

[ 326 ] 


'Well, but it isn't all I've got to say and you 
know it because I ' ve spoken to you before. What 
I've been talking about is all true, and all import- 
ant, and you'll see it some day when you're fit. But 
what can men in your position know about it, or care 
about it? What do any of you want, but bread' 
he thundered on the desk 'a bit of decent comfort 
- a bit of freedom freedom from tyrants who call 
themselves your betters ! a bit of rest in your old 
age, a home that's something better than a dog-hole, 
a wage that's something better than starvation, 
an honest share in the wealth you are making every 
day and every hour for other people to gorge and 

He stopped a moment to see how that took. A knot 
of young men in a corner rattled their sticks vigor- 
ously. The older men had begun at any rate to look 
at the speaker. The boys on the back benches in- 
stinctively stopped scuffling. 

Then he threw himself into a sort of rapid question- 
and-answer. What were their wages? eleven shil- 
lings a week? 

'Not they!' cried a man from the middle of the 
chapel. 'Yer mus reckon it wet an dry. I wor 
turned back two days las week, an two days this, 
fower shillin lost each week that's what I call 
skinnin ov yer.' 

Wharton nodded at him approvingly. By now he 
knew the majority of the men in each village by name, 
and never forgot a face or a biography. 'You're right 
there, Watkins. Eleven shillings, then, when it is n't 
less, never more, and precious often less ; and harvest 
[ 327 ] 


money the people that are kind enough to come 
round and ask you to vote Tory for them make a deal 
of that, don't they? and a few odds and ends here 
and there precious few of them! There! that's 
about it for wages, is n't it? Thirty pounds a year, 
somewhere about, to keep a wife and children on - 
and for ten hours a day work, not counting meal-times 
- that's it, I think. Oh, you are well off! are n't 

He dropped his arms, folded, on the desk in front 
of him, and paused to look at them, his bright kindling 
eye running over rank after rank. A chuckle of rough 
laughter, bitter and jeering, ran through the benches. 
Then they broke out and applauded him. 

Well, and about their cottages? 

His glance caught Marcella, passed to her mother 
sitting stiffly motionless under her veil. He drew him- 
self up, thought a moment, then threw himself far 
forward again over the desk as though the better to 
launch what he had to say, his voice taking a grind- 
ing, determined note. 

He had been in all parts of the division, he said; 
seen everything, inquired into everything. No doubt, 
on the great properties there had been a good deal done 
of late years public opinion had effected something, 
the landlords had been forced to disgorge some of the 
gains wrested from labour, to pay for the decent hous- 
ing of the labourer. But did anybody suppose that 
enough had been done? Why, he had seen dens aye, 
on the best properties not fit for the pigs that the 
farmers wouldn't let the labourers keep, lest they 
should steal their straw for the littering of them ! 

[ 328 ] 


where a man was bound to live the life of a beast, and 
his children after him ' 

A tall thin man of about sixty rose in his place, and 
pointed a long, quavering finger at the speaker. 

'What is it, Darwin? speak up!' said Wharton, 
dropping at once into the colloquial tone, and stooping 
forward to listen. 

'My sleepin room's six foot nine by seven foot six. 
We have to shift our bed for the rain's comin in, an 
yer may see for yoursels ther ain't much room to shift 
it in. An beyont us ther's a room for the chillen, 
same size as ourn, an no window, nothin but the 
door into us. Ov a summer night the chillen, three on 
'em, is all of a sweat afore they're asleep. An no 
garden, an no chance o' decent ways nohow. An if 
yer ask for a bit o' repairs yer get sworn at. An that's 
all that most on us can get out of Squire Boyce ! ' 

There was a hasty whisper among some of the men 
round him, as they glanced over their shoulders at the 
two ladies on the back bench. One or two of them half- 
rose, and tried to pull him down. Wharton looked at 
Marcella ; it seemed to him he saw a sort of passionate 
satisfaction on her pale face, and in the erect carriage 
of her head. Then she stooped to the side and whis- 
pered to her mother. Mrs. Boyce shook her head and 
sat on, immoveable. All this took but a second or two. 

'Ah, well,' said Wharton, 'we won't have names; 
that'll do us no good. It's not the men you've got to 
go for so much though we shall go for them too 
before long when we've got the law more on our side. 
It's the system. It's the whole way of dividing the 
wealth that you made, you and your children by 
[ 329 ] 


your work, your hard, slavish, incessant work be- 
tween you and those who don't work, who live on your 
labour and grow fat on your poverty ! What we want 
is a fair division. There ought to be wealth enough 
there is wealth enough for all in this blessed country. 
The earth gives it; the sun gives it: labour extracts 
and piles it up. Why should one class take three- 
fourths of it and leave you and your fellow-workers 
in the cities the miserable pittance which is all you 
have to starve and breed on? Why? why? I say. 
Why ! because you are a set of dull, jealous, poor- 
spirited cowards, unable to pull together, to trust each 
other, to give up so much as a pot of beer a week for 
the sake of your children and your liberties and your 
class there, that 's why it is, and I tell it you straight 

He drew himself up, folded his arms across his chest, 
and looked at them scorn and denunciation in every 
line of his young frame, and the blaze of his blue eye. 
A murmur ran through the room. Some of the men 
laughed excitedly. Darwin sprang up again. 

'You keep the perlice off us, an gie us the cuttin up 
o' their bloomin parks an we'll do it fast enough/ he 

'Much good that'll do you, just at present/ said 
Wharton, contemptuously. 'Now, you just listen to 

And, leaning forward over the desk again, his finger 
pointed at the room, he went through the regular 
Socialist programme as it affects the country districts 
the transference of authority within the villages 
from the few to the many, the landlords taxed more 

[ 330 ] 


and more heavily during the transition time for the 
provision of house-room, water, light, education and 
amusement for the labourer; and ultimately land and 
capital at the free disposal of the State, to be supplied 
to the worker on demand at the most moderate terms, 
while the annexed rent and interest of the capitalist 
class relieves him of taxes, and the disappearance of 
squire, State parson, and plutocrat leaves him master 
in his own house, the slave of no man, the equal of all. 
And, as a first step to this new Jerusalem organisa- 
tion! self-sacrifice enough to form and maintain a 
union, to vote for Radical and Socialist candidates in 
the teeth of the people who have coals and blankets 
to give away. 

'Then I suppose you think you'd be turned out of 
your cottages, dismissed your work, made to smart 
for it somehow. Just you try! There are people all 
over the country ready to back you, if you'd only 
back yourselves. But you won't. You won't fight 
that's the worst of you; that's what makes all of us 
sick when we come down to talk to you. You won't 
spare twopence halfpenny a week from boozing not 
you ! to subscribe to a union, and take the first little 
step towards filling your stomachs and holding your 
heads up as free men. What's the good of your 
grumbling? I suppose you'll go on like that- 
grumbling and starving and cringing and talking 
big of the things you could do if you would : and all 
the time not one honest effort not one ! to better 
yourselves, to pull the yoke off your necks! By the 
Lord ! I tell you it's a damned sort of business talking 
to fellows like you!' 

[ 331 ] 


Marcella started as he flung the words out with a 
bitter, nay, a brutal emphasis. The smooth-faced 
minister coughed loudly with a sudden movement, 
half -got up to remonstrate, and then thought better 
of it. Mrs. Boyce for the first time showed some anima- 
tion under her veil. Her eyes followed the speaker 
with a quick attention. 

As for the men, as they turned clumsily to stare at, 
to laugh, or talk to each other, Marcella could hardly 
make out whether they were angered or fascinated. 
Whichever it was, Wharton cared for none of them. 
His blood was up; his fatigue thrown off. Standing 
there in front of them, his hands in his pockets, pale 
with the excitement of speaking, his curly head thrown 
out against the whitened wall of the chapel, he lashed 
into the men before him, talking their language, their 
dialect even ; laying bare their weaknesses, sensualities, 
indecisions ; painting in the sombrest colours the grim 
truths of their melancholy lives. 

Marcella could hardly breathe. It seemed to her 
that, among these cottagers, she had never lived till 
now under the blaze of these eyes within the 
vibration of this voice. Never had she so realised the 
power of this singular being. He was scourging, dis- 
secting, the weather-beaten men before him, as, with 
a difference, he had scourged, dissected her. She 
found herself exulting in his powers of tyranny, in the 
naked thrust of his words, so nervous, so pitiless. 
And then by a sudden flash she thought of him by Mrs. 
Kurd's fire, the dying child on his knee, against his 
breast. 'Here/ she thought, while her pulses leapt, 'is 
the leader forme for these. Let him call, I will follow.' 

[ 332 ] 


It was as though he followed the ranging of her 
thought, for suddenly, when she and his hearers least 
expected it, his tone changed, his storm of speech 
sank. He fell into a strain of quiet sympathy, encour- 
agement, hope; dwelt with a good deal of homely 
iteration on the immediate practical steps which each 
man before him could, if he would, take towards the 
common end; spoke of the help and support lying 
ready for the country labourers throughout demo- 
cratic England if they would but put forward their own 
energies and quit themselves like men; pointed for- 
ward to a time of plenty, education, social peace ; and 
so with some good-tempered banter of his oppon- 
ent, old Dodgson, and some precise instructions as to 
how and where they were to record their votes on 
the day of election came to an end. Two or three 
other speeches followed, and among them a few 
stumbling words from Hurd. Marcella approved her- 
self and applauded him, as she recognised a sentence 
or two taken bodily from the Labour Clarion of the 
preceding week. Then a resolution pledging the 
meeting to support the Liberal candidate was passed 
unanimously amid evident excitement. It was the 
first time that such a thing had ever happened in 

Mrs. Boyce treated her visitor on their way home 
with a new respect, mixed, however, as usual, with 
her prevailing irony. For one who knew her, her 
manner implied, not that she liked him any more, but 
that a man so well trained to his own profession must 
always hold his own. 

[ 333 ] 


As for Marcella, she said little or nothing. But 
Wharton, in the dark of the carriage, had a strange 
sense that her eye was often on him, that her mood 
marched with his, and that if he could have spoken 
her response would have been electric. 

When he had helped her out of the carriage, and 
they stood in the vestibule Mrs. Boyce having 
walked on into the hall he said to her, his voice 
hoarse with fatigue : 

'Did I do your bidding, did I rouse them?' 

Marcella was seized with sudden shyness. 

'You rated them enough/ 

'Well, did you disapprove?' 

'Oh no! it seems to be your way/ 

'My proof of friendship? Well, can there be a 
greater? Will you show me some to-morrow?' 

'How can I?' 

'Will you criticise? tell me where you thought 
I was a fool to-night, or a hypocrite? Your mother 

'I dare say!' said Marcella, her breath quickening; 
'but don't expect it from me/ 


'Because because I don't pretend. I don't know 
whether you roused them, but you roused me.' 

She swept on before him into the dark hall, without 
giving him a moment for reply, took her candle, and 

Wharton found his own staircase, and went up to 
bed. The light he carried showed his smiling eyes bent 
on the ground, his mouth still moving as though with 
some pleasant desire of speech. 


was sitting alone in the big Mellor drawing- 
room, after dinner. He had drawn one of the few easy 
chairs the room possessed to the fire, and with his feet 
on the fender, and one of Mr. Boyce's French novels 
on his knee, he was intensely enjoying a moment of 
physical ease. The work of these weeks of canvassing 
and speaking had been arduous, and he was naturally 
indolent. Now, beside this fire and at a distance, it 
amazed him that any motive whatever, public or 
private, should ever have been strong enough to take 
him out through the mire on these winter nights to 
spout himself hoarse to a parcel of rustics. 'What did 
I do it for?' he asked himself; 'what am I going to 
do it for again to-morrow?' 

Ten o'clock. Mr. Boyce was gone to bed. No more 
entertaining of him to be done; one might be thank- 
ful for that mercy. Miss Boyce and her mother would, 
he supposed, be down directly. They had gone up to 
dress at nine. It was the night of the Maxwell Court 
Ball, and the carriage had been ordered for half- 
past ten. In a few minutes he would see Miss Boyce 
in her new dress, wearing Raeburn's pearls. He was 
extraordinarily observant, and a number of little 
incidents and domestic arrangements bearing on the 
feminine side of Marcella's life had been apparent to 
him from the beginning. He knew, for instance, that 
the trousseau was being, made at home, and that 
[ 335 ] 


during the last few weeks the lady for whom it was 
destined had shown an indifference to the progress of 
it which seemed to excite a dumb annoyance in her 
mother. Curious woman, Mrs. Boyce ! 

He found himself listening to every opening door, 
and already, as it were, gazing at Marcella in her white 
array. He was not asked to this ball. As he had early 
explained to Miss Boyce, he and Miss Raeburn had 
been 'cuts' for years, for what reason he had of course 
left Marcella to guess. As if Marcella found any dif- 
ficulty in guessing as if the preposterous bigotries 
and intolerances of the Ladies' League were not 
enough to account for any similar behaviour on the 
part of any similar high-bred spinster ! As for this oc- 
casion, she was far too proud both on her own behalf 
and Wharton's to say anything either to Lord Max- 
well or his sister on the subject of an invitation for her 
father's guest. 

It so happened, however, that Wharton was aware 
of certain other reasons for this social exclusion from 
Maxwell Court. There was no necessity, of course, 
for enlightening Miss Boyce on the point. But as he 
sat waiting for her, Wharton 's mind went back to the 
past connected with those reasons. In that past Rae- 
burn had had the whip-hand of him; Raeburn had 
been the moral superior dictating indignant terms to 
a young fellow detected in flagrant misconduct. 
Wharton did not know that he bore him any particular 
grudge. But he had never liked Aldous, as a boy, that 
he could remember; naturally he had liked him less 
since that old affair. The remembrance of it had 
made his position at Mellor particularly sweet to him 
[ 336 ] 


from the beginning; he was not sure that it had not 
determined his original acceptance of the offer made 
to him by the Liberal Committee to contest old Dodg- 
son's seat. And during the past few weeks the ex- 
hilaration and interest of the general position con- 
sidering all things had been very great. Not only 
was he on the point of ousting the Maxwell candidate 
from a seat which he had held securely for years 
Wharton was perfectly well aware by now that he was 
trespassing on Aldous Raeburn 's preserves in ways 
far more important, and infinitely more irritating! 
He and Raeburn had not met often at Mellor during 
these weeks of fight. Each had been too busy. But 
whenever they had come across each other Wharton 
had clearly perceived that his presence in the house, 
his growing intimacy with Marcella Boyce, the free- 
masonry of opinion between them, the interest she took 
in his contest, the village friendships they had in 
common, were all intensely galling to Aldous Raeburn. 
The course of events, indeed, had lately produced 
in Wharton a certain excitement recklessness even. 
He had come down into these parts to court 'the joy 
of eventful living' politically and personally. But 
the situation had proved to be actually far more 
poignant and personal than he had expected. This 
proud, crude, handsome girl to her certainly it was 
largely due that the days had flown as they had. He 
was perfectly, one might almost say gleefully, aware 
that at the present moment it was he and not Aldous 
Raeburn who was intellectually her master. His mind 
flew back at first with amusement, then with a thrill 
of something else, over their talks and quarrels. He 
[ 337 ] 


smiled gaily as he recalled her fits of anger with him, 
her remonstrances, appeals and then her awkward, 
inevitable submissions when he had crushed her with 
sarcasm or with facts. Ah ! she would go to this ball 
to-night; Aldous Raeburn would parade her as his 
possession; but she would go with thoughts, am- 
bitions, ideals, which, as they developed, would make 
her more and more difficult for a Raeburn to deal 
with. And in those thoughts and ambitions the man 
who had been her tormentor, teacher, and companion 
during six rushing weeks knew well that he already 
counted for much. He had cherished in her all those 
'divine discontents/ which were already there when 
he first knew her ; taught her to formulate them, given 
her better reasons for them ; so that by now she was 
a person with a far more defined and stormy will 
than she had been to begin with. Wharton did not 
particularly know why he should exult; but he did 
exult. At any rate, he was prodigiously tickled 
entertained by the whole position. 

A step, a rustle outside he hastily shut his book 
and listened. 

The door opened, and Marcella came in a white 
vision against the heavy blue of the walls. With her 
came, too, a sudden strong scent of flowers, for she 
carried a marvellous bunch of hot-house roses, 
Aldous's gift, which had just arrived by special 

Wharton sprang up and placed a chair for her. 

' I had begun to believe the ball only existed in my 
own imagination!' he said, gaily. 'Surely you are 
very late.' 

[ 338 ] 


Then he saw that she looked disturbed. 

'It was papa/ she said, coming to the fire, and look- 
ing down into it. ' It has been another attack of pain 
-not serious, mamma says; she is coming down 
directly. But I wonder why they come, and why he 
thinks himself so ill do you know?' she added 
abruptly, turning to her companion. 

Wharton hesitated, taken by surprise. During the 
past weeks, what with Mr. Boyce's confidence and 
his own acuteness, he had arrived at a very shrewd 
notion of what was wrong with his host. But he was 
not going to enlighten the daughter. 

' I should say your father wants a great deal of care 
and is nervous about himself/ he said, quietly. ' But 
he will get the care and your mother knows the 
whole state of the case/ 

'Yes, she knows/ said Marcella. 'I wish I did/ 

And a sudden painful expression of moral worry, 
remorse passed across the girl's face. Wharton 
knew that she had often been impatient of late with 
her father, and incredulous of his complaints. He 
thought he understood. 

' One can often be of more use to a sick person if one 
is not too well acquainted with what ails them/ he 
said. 'Hope and cheerfulness are everything in a case 
like your father's. He will do well/ 

'If he does he won't owe any of it ' 

She stopped as impulsively as she had begun. 

'To me/ she meant to have said; then had retreat- 
ed hastily, before her own sense of something unduly 
intimate and personal. Wharton stood quietly beside 
her, saying nothing, but receiving and soothing her 
[ 339 ] 


self-reproach just as surely as though she had put it 
into words. 

'You are crushing your flowers, I think/ he said, 

And indeed her roses were dangling against her 
dress, as if she had forgotten all about them. 

She raised them carelessly, but he bent to smell 
them, and she held them out. 

'Summer!' he said, plunging his face into them 
with a long breath of sensuous enjoyment. ' How the 
year sweeps round in an instant ! And all the effect of 
a little heat and a little money. Will you allow me a 
philosopher's remark?' 

He drew back from her. His quick inquisitive but 
still respectful eye took in every delightful detail. 

'If I don't give you leave, my experience is that 
you will take it!' she said, half -laughing, half -resent- 
ful, as though she had old aggressions in mind. 

'You admit the strength of the temptation? It is 
very simple, no one could help making it. To be 
spectator of the height of anything the best, the 
climax makes any mortal's pulses run. Beauty, 
success, happiness, for instance?' 

He paused smiling. She leant a thin hand on the 
mantelpiece and looked away ; Aldous's pearls slipped 
backwards along her white arm. 

' Do you suppose to-night will be the height of hap- 
piness?' she said at last with a little scorn. 'These 
functions don't present themselves to me in such a light.' 

Wharton could have laughed out her pedantry 
was so young and unconscious. But he restrained 

[ 340 ] 


'I shall be with the majority to-night/ he said, de- 
murely. ' I may as well warn you/ 

Her colour rose. No other man had ever dared to 
speak to her with this assurance, this cool scrutinising 
air. She told herself to be indignant ; the next moment 
she was indignant, but with herself for remembering 

'Tell me one thing/ said Wharton, changing his 
tone wholly. 'I know you went down hurriedly to 
the village before dinner. Was anything wrong?' 

'Old Patton is very ill/ she said, sighing. 'I went 
to ask after him; he may die any moment. And the 
Kurds' boy too/ 

He leant against the mantelpiece, talking to her 
about both cases with a quick, incisive common sense 
not unkind, but without a touch of unnecessary 
sentiment, still less of the superior person which 
represented one of the moods she liked best in him. 
In speaking of the poor he always took the tone of 
comradeship, of a plain equality, and the tone was, in 
fact, genuine. 

'Do you know/ he said, presently, 'I did not tell 
you before, but I am certain that Kurd's wife is 
afraid of you, that she has a secret from you?' 

'From me! how could she? I know every detail of 
their affairs.' 

'No matter. I listened to what she said that day in 
the cottage when I had the boy on my knee. I noticed 
her face, and I am quite certain. She has a secret, 
and above all a secret from you.' 

Marcella looked disturbed for a moment, then she 

[ 341 ] 


'Oh no!' she said, with a little superior air. e l as- 
sure you I know her better than you/ 

Wharton said no more. 

'Marcella!' called a distant voice from the hall. 

The girl gathered up her white skirts and her flowers 
in haste. 

' Good-night !' 

'Good-night! I shall hear you come home and 
wonder how you have sped. One word, if I may! 
Take your role and play it. There is nothing subjects 
dislike so much as to see royalty decline its part/ 

She laughed, blushed, a little proudly and uncer- 
tainly, and went without reply. As she shut the door 
behind her, a sudden flatness fell upon her. She 
walked through the dark Stone Parlour outside, see- 
ing still the firmly-knit, lightly-made figure boyish, 
middle-sized, yet never insignificant the tumbled 
waves of fair hair, the eyes so keenly blue, the face 
with its sharp, mocking lines, its powers of sudden 
charm. Then self-reproach leapt, and possessed her. 
She quickened her pace, hurrying into the hall, as 
though from something she was ashamed or afraid of. 

In the hall a new sensation awaited her. Her mother, 
fully dressed, stood waiting by the old billiard-table 
for her maid, who had gone to fetch her a cloak. 

Marcella stopped an instant in surprise and delight, 
then ran up to her. 'Mamma, how lovely you look! 
I have n't seen you like that, not since I was a child. 
I remember you then once, in a low dress, a white 
dress, with flowers, coming into the nursery. But that 
black becomes you so well, and Deacon has done your 
hair beautifully!' 

[ 342 ] 


She took her mother's hand and kissed her cheek, 
touched by an emotion which had many roots. There 
was infinite relief in this tender natural outlet; she 
seemed to recover possession of herself. 

Mrs. Boyce bore the kiss quietly. Her face was a 
little pinched and white. But the unusual display 
Deacon had been allowed to make of her pale golden 
hair, still long and abundant; the unveiling of the 
shapely shoulders and neck, little less beautiful than 
her daughter's; the elegant lines of the velvet dress, 
all these things had very nobly transformed her. Mar- 
cella could not restrain her admiration and delight. 
Mrs. Boyce winced, and, looking upward to the gallery, 
which ran round the hall, called Deacon impatiently. 

'Only, mamma/ said Marcella, discontentedly, 'I 
don't like that little chain round your neck. It is not 
equal to the rest, not worthy of it.' 

'I have nothing else, my dear/ said Mrs. Boyce, 
dryly. ' Now, Deacon, don't be all night ! ' 

Nothing else? Yet, if she shut her eyes, Marcella 
could perfectly recall the diamonds on the neck and 
arms of that white figure of her childhood could see 
herself as a baby playing with the treasures of her 
mother's jewel-box. 

Nowadays, Mrs. Boyce was very secretive and 
reserved about her personal possessions. Marcella 
never went into her room unless she was asked, and 
would never have thought, of treating it or its contents 
with any freedom. 

The mean chain which went so ill with the costly, 
hoarded dress it recalled to Marcella all the inex- 
orable silent miseries of her mother's past life, and all 
[ 343 ] 


the sordid disadvantages and troubles of her own 
youth. She followed Mrs. Boyce out to the carriage 
in silence once more in a tumult of sore pride and 
doubtful feeling. 

Four weeks to her wedding-day ! The words dinned 
in her ears as they drove along. Yet they sounded 
strange to her, incredible almost. How much did 
she know of Aldous, of her life that was to be 
above all, how much of herself? She was not happy 
had not been happy or at ease for many days. Yet in 
her restlessness she could think nothing out. More- 
over, the chain that galled and curbed her was a chain 
of character. In spite of her modernness, and the com- 
plexity of many of her motives, there were certain 
inherited simplicities of nature at the bottom of her. 
In her wild, demonic childhood you could always trust 
Marcie Boyce, if she had given you her word her 
schoolfellows knew that. If her passions were half- 
civilised and Southern, her way of understanding the 
point of honour was curiously English, sober, tena- 
cious. So now. Her sense of bond to Aldous had never 
been in the least touched by any of her dissatisfactions 
and revolts. Yet it rushed upon her to-night with 
amazement, and that in four weeks she was going to 
marry him! Why? how? what would it really 
mean for him and for her? It was as though in mid- 
stream she were trying to pit herself for an instant 
against the current which had so far carried them all 
on, to see what it might be like to retrace a step, and 
could only realise with dismay the force and rapidity 
of the water. 

[ 344 ] 


Yet all the time another side of her was well aware 
that she was at that moment the envy of half a county, 
that in another ten minutes hundreds of eager and 
critical eyes would be upon her; and her pride was 
rising to her part. The little incident of the chain had 
somehow for the moment made the ball and her place 
in it more attractive to her. 

They had no sooner stepped from their carriage 
than Aldous, who was waiting in the outer hall, joy- 
ously discovered them. Till then he had been walking 
aimlessly amid the crowd of his own guests, wonder- 
ing when she would come, how she would like it. This 
splendid function had been his grandfather's idea; it 
would never have entered his own head for a moment. 
Yet he understood his grandfather's wish to present 
his heir's promised bride in this public, ceremonious 
way to the society of which she would some day be the 
natural leader. He understood, too, that there was 
more in the wish than met the ear ; that the occasion 
meant to Lord Maxwell, whether Dick Boyce were 
there or no, the final condoning of things past and 
done with, a final throwing of the Maxwell shield over 
the Boyce weakness, and full adoption of Marcella 
into her new family. 

All this he understood and was grateful for. But 
how would she respond? How would she like it 
this parade that was to be made of her these people 
that must be introduced to her? He was full of 

Yet in many ways his mind had been easier of late. 
During the last week she had been very gentle and 
[ 345 ] 


good to him even Miss Raeburn had been pleased 
with her. There had been no quoting of Wharton 
when they met; and he had done his philosopher's 
best to forget him. He trusted her proudly, intensely ; 
and in four weeks she would be his wife. 

'Can you bear it?' he said to her in a laughing 
whisper as she and her mother emerged from the 

'Tell me what to do/ she said, flushing. 'I will do 
my best. What a crowd! Must we stay very long?' 

'Ah, my dear Mrs. Boyce,' cried Lord Maxwell, 
meeting them on the steps of the inner quadrangular 
corridor 'welcome, indeed! Let me take you in. 
Marcella ! with Aldous's permission ! ' he stooped his 
white head gallantly and kissed her on the cheek - 
' Remember, I am an old man ; if I choose to pay you 
compliments, you will have to put up with them!' 

Then he offered Mrs. Boyce his arm, a stately figure 
in his ribbon and cross of the Bath. A delicate red had 
risen to that lady's thin cheek in spite of her self- 
possession. 'Poor thing,' said Lord Maxwell to him- 
self as he led her along 'poor thing! how dis- 
tinguished and charming still ! One sees to-night what 
she was like as a girl.' 

Aldous and Marcella followed. They had to pass 
along the great corridor which ran round the quad- 
rangle of the house. The antique marbles which lined 
it were to-night masked in flowers, and seats covered 
in red had been fitted in wherever it was possible, and 
were now crowded with dancers, 'sitting out.' From 
the ballroom ahead came waves of waltz-music; the 
ancient house was alive with colour and perfume, with 
[ 346 ] 


the sounds of laughter and talk, lightly fretting, and 
breaking the swaying rhythms of the band. Beyond 
the windows of the corridor, which had been left un- 
curtained because of the beauty of the night, the stiff 
Tudor garden with its fountains, which filled up the 
quadrangle, was gaily illuminated under a bright 
moon ; and amid all the varied colour of lamps, drap- 
ery, dresses, faces, the antique heads ranged along the 
walls of the corridor here Marcus Aurelius, there 
Trajan, there Seneca and the marble sarcophagi which 
broke the line at intervals, stood in cold, whitish relief. 

Marcella passed along on Aldous's arm, conscious 
that people were streaming into the corridor from all 
the rooms opening upon it, and that every eye was 
fixed upon her and her mother. 'Look, there she is,' 
she heard in an excited, girl's voice as they passed 
Lord Maxwell's library, now abandoned to the crowd 
like all the rest. 'Come, quick! There I told you 
she was lovely!' 

Every now and then some old friend, man or woman, 
rose smiling from the seats along the side, and Aldous 
introduced his bride. 

' On her dignity ! ' said an old hunting squire to his 
daughter when they had passed. 'Shy, no doubt - 
very natural ! But nowadays girls, when they 're shy, 
don't giggle and blush as they used to in my young 
days; they look as if you meant to insult them, and 
they were n't going to allow it ! Oh, very handsome 
very handsome of course. But you can see she's 
advanced peculiar or what d' ye call it? wo- 
man's rights, I suppose, and all that kind of thing? 
Like to see you go in for it, Nettie, eh !' 
[ 347 ] 


'She's awfully handsome/ sighed his pink-cheeked, 
insignificant little daughter, still craning her neck to 
look 'very simply dressed too, except for those 
lovely pearls. She does her hair very oddly, so low 
down in those plaits. Nobody does it like that 

'That's because nobody has such a head/ said her 
brother, a young Hussar lieutenant, beside her, in the 
tone of connoisseurship. 'By George, she's ripping - 
she's the best-looking girl I've seen for a good long 
time. But she's a Tartar, I'll swear looks it, any- 

' Every one says she has the most extraordinary 
opinions/ said the girl, eagerly. 'She'll manage him, 
don't you think? I'm sure he's very meek and mild/ 

'Don't know that/ said the young man, twisting 
his moustache with the air of exhaustive information. 
'Raeburn's a very good fellow excellent fellow - 
see him shooting, you know that kind of thing. I 
expect he's got a will when he wants it. The mother's 
handsome, too, and looks a lady. The father's kept 
out of the way, I see. Rather a blessing for the 
Raeburns. Can't be pleasant, you know, to get a 
man like that in the family. Look after your spoons 
- that kind of thing/ 

Meanwhile Marcella was standing beside Miss Rae- 
burn, at the head of the long ballroom, and doing her 
best to behave prettily. One after another she bowed 
to, or shook hands with, half the magnates of the 
county the men in pink, the women in the new 
London dresses, for which this brilliant and long- 
expected ball had given so welcome an excuse. They 
[ 348 ] 


knew little or nothing of her, except that she was 
clearly good-looking, that she was that fellow Dick 
Boyce's daughter, and was reported to be 'odd/ Some, 
mostly men, who said their conventional few words 
to her, felt an amused admiration for the skill and 
rapidity with which she had captured the parti of the 
county; some, mostly women, were already jealous 
of her. A few of the older people here and there, both 
men and women but after all they shook hands like 
the rest ! knew perfectly well that the girl must be 
going through an ordeal, were touched by the signs 
of thought and storm in the face, and looked back at 
her with kind eyes. 

But of these last Marcella realised nothing. What 
she was saying to herself was that, if they knew little 
of her, she knew a great deal of many of them. In 
their talks over the Stone Parlour fire she and Wharton 
had gone through most of the properties, large and 
small, of his division, and indeed of the divisions 
round, by the help of the knowledge he had gained in 
his canvass, together with a blue-book one of the 
numberless ! recently issued, on the state of the 
Midland labourer. He had abounded in anecdote, 
sarcasm, reflexion, based partly on his own experiences, 
partly on his endless talks with the working-folk, now 
in the public-house, now at their own chimney-corner. 
Marcella, indeed, had a large unsuspected acquaint- 
ance with the county before she met it in the flesh. 
She knew that a great many of these men who came 
and spoke to her were doing their best according to 
their lights, that improvements were going on, that 
times were mending. But there were abuses enough 
[ 349 ] 


still, and the abuses were far more vividly present to 
her than the improvements. In general, the people 
who thronged these splendid rooms were to her merely 
the incompetent members of a useless class. The 
nation would do away with them in time ! Meanwhile 
it might at least be asked of them that they should 
practise their profession of landowning, such as it was, 
with greater conscience and intelligence that they 
should not shirk its opportunities or idle them away. 
And she could point out those who did both - 
scandalously, intolerably. Once or twice she thought 
passionately of Minta Kurd, washing and mending all 
day, in her damp cottage; or of the Fattens in 'the 
parish-house/ thankful after sixty years of toil for 
a hovel where the rain came through the thatch, and 
where the smoke choked you, unless, with the thermo- 
meter below freezing-point, you opened the door to 
the blast. Why should these people have all the gay 
clothes, the flowers, the jewels, the delicate food - 
all the delight and all the leisure? And those, nothing ! 
Her soul rose against what she saw as she stood there, 
going through her part. Wharton's very words, every 
inflexion of his voice was in her ears, playing chorus 
to the scene. 

But when these first introductions, these little 
empty talks of three or four phrases apiece, and all of 
them alike, were nearly done with, Marcella looked 
eagerly round for Mary Harden. There she was, sit- 
ting quietly against the wall in a remote corner, her 
plain face all smiles, her little feet dancing under 
the white muslin frock which she had fashioned for 
herself with so much pain under Marcella's directions. 
[ 350 ] 


Miss Raeburn was called away to find an armchair 
for some dowager of importance; Marcella took ad- 
vantage of the break and of the end of a dance to 
hurry down the room to Mary. Aldous, who was talk- 
ing to old Sir Charles Leven, Frank's father, a few 
steps off, nodded and smiled to her as he saw her 

'Have you been dancing, Mary?' she said, severely. 

' I would n't for worlds ! I never was so much 
amused in my life. Look at those girls those sis- 
ters in the huge velvet sleeves, like coloured bal- 
loons ! and that old lady in the pink tulle and 
diamonds. I do so want to get her her cloak ! And 
those Lancers! I never could have imagined people 
danced like that. They didn't dance them they 
romped them! It was n't beautiful was it?' 

'Why do you expect an English crowd to do any- 
thing beautiful? If we could do it, we should be too 

' But it is beautiful, all the same, you scornful per- 
son ! ' cried Mary, dragging her friend down beside her. 
' How pretty the girls are ! And as for the diamonds, 
I never saw anything so wonderful. I wish I could 
have made Charles come!' 

'Would n't he?' 

'No' --she looked a little troubled 'he could n't 
think it would be quite right. But I don't know a 
sight like this takes me off my feet, shakes me up, and 
does me a world of good !' 

'You dear, simple thing!' said Marcella, slipping 
her hand into Mary's as it lay on the bench. 

'Oh, you needn't be so superior!' cried Mary- 
I 351 ] 


'not for another year at least. I don't believe you are 
much more used to it than I am!' 

'If you mean/ said Marcella, 'that I was never at 
anything so big and splendid as this before, you are 
quite right/ 

And she looked round the room with that curious, 
cold air of personal detachment from all she saw, 
which had often struck Mary, and to-night made her 

'Then enjoy it!' she said, laughing and frowning 
at the same time. ' That's a much more plain duty for 
you than it was for Charles to stay at home there ! 
Have n't you been dancing?' 

'No, Mr. Raeburn does n't dance. But he thinks he 
can get through the next Lancers if I will steer him.' 

'Then I shall find a seat where I can look at you,' 
said Mary, decidedly. 'Ah, there is Mr. Raeburn 
coming to introduce somebody to you. I knew they 
would n't let you sit here long.' 

Aldous brought up a young Guardsman, who 
boldly asked Miss Boyce for the pleasure of a dance. 
Marcella consented; and off they swept into a room 
which was only just beginning to fill for the new 
dance, and where, therefore, for the moment the 
young grace of both had free play. Marcella had been 
an indefatigable dancer in the old London days at 
those students' parties, with their dyed gloves and 
lemonade suppers, which were running in her head 
now, as she swayed to the rhythm of this perfect band. 
The mere delight in movement came back to her; and 
while they danced, she danced with all her heart. 
Then in the pauses she would lean against the wall 
[ 352 ] 


beside her partner, and rack her brain to find a word 
to say to him. As for anything that he said, every 
word whether of Ascot, or the last Academy, or 
the new plays, or the hunting and the elections - 
sounded to her more vapid than the last. 

Meanwhile Aldous stood near Mary Harden and 
watched the dancing figure. He had never seen her 
dance before. Mary shyly stole a look at him from 
time to time. 

'Well/ he said at last, stooping to his neighbour, 
'what are you thinking of?' 

'I think she is a dream!' said Mary, flushing with 
the pleasure of being able to say it. They were great 
friends, he and she, and to-night somehow she was not 
a bit afraid of him. 

Aldous's eye sparkled a moment; then he looked 
down at her with a kind smile. 

'If you suppose I am going to let you sit here all 
night, you are very much mistaken. Marcella gave me 
precise instructions. I am going off this moment to 
find somebody/ 

'Mr. Raeburn don't!' cried Mary, catching at him. 
But he was gone, and she was left in trepidation, im- 
agining the sort of formidable young man who was 
soon to be presented to her, and shaking at the thought 
of him. 

When the dance was over, Marcella returned to Miss 
Raeburn, who was standing at the door into the cor- 
ridor and had beckoned to her. She went through a 
number of new introductions, and declared to herself 
that she was doing all she could. Miss Raeburn was 
not so well satisfied. 

[ 353 ] 


'Why can't she smile and chatter like other girls? 1 
thought Aunt Neta, impatiently. 'It's her 'ideas/ I 
suppose. What rubbish ! There, now just see the 
difference ! ' 

For at the moment Lady Winterbourne came up, 
and instantly Marcella was all smiles and talk, holding 
her friend by both hands, clinging to her almost. 

'Oh, do come here!' she said, leading her into a 
corner. 'There's such a crowd, and I say all the wrong 
things. There!' with a sigh of relief. 'Now I feel 
myself protected/ 

'I mustn't keep you,' said Lady Winterbourne, a 
little taken aback by her effusion. 'Everybody is 
wanting to talk to you/ 

'Oh, I know! There is Miss Raeburn looking at me 
severely already. But I must do as I like a little.' 

'You ought to do as Aldous likes,' said Lady Winter- 
bourne, suddenly, in her deepest and most tragic 
voice. It seemed to her a moment had come for 
admonition, and she seized it hastily. 

Marcella stared at her in surprise. She knew by 
now that when Lady Winterbourne looked most for- 
bidding she was in reality most shy. But still she was 
taken aback. 

'Why do you say that, I wonder?' she asked, half -re- 
proachfully. ' I have been behaving myself quite nicely 
I have indeed; at least, as nicely as I knew how/ 

Lady Winterbourne's tragic air yielded to a slow 

'You look very well, my dear. That white becomes 
you charmingly ; so do the pearls. I don't wonder that 
Aldous always knows where you are/ 
[ 354 ] 


Marcella raised her eyes and caught those of Aldous 
fixed upon her from the other side of the room. She 
blushed, smiled slightly, and looked away. 

' Who is that tall man just gone up to speak to him ? ' 
she asked of her companion. 

'That is Lord Wandle,' said Lady Winterbourne, 
'and his plain second wife behind him. Edward always 
scolds me for not admiring him. He says women know 
nothing at all about men's looks, and that Lord 
Wandle was the most splendid man of his time. But 
I always think it an unpleasant face/ 

' Lord Wandle ! ' exclaimed Marcella, frowning. ' Oh, 
please come with me, dear Lady Winterbourne ! I know 
he is asking Aldous to introduce him, and I won't 
no, I will not be introduced to him/ 

And laying hold of her astonished companion, she 
drew her hastily through a doorway near, walked 
quickly, still gripping her, through two connected 
rooms beyond, and finally landed her and herself on 
a sofa in Lord Maxwell's library, pursued meanwhile 
through all her hurried course by the curious looks of 
an observant throng. 

'That man! no, that would really have been too 
much !' said Marcella, using her large feather fan with 
stormy energy. 

'What is the matter with you, my dear?' said Lady 
Winterbourne in her amazement; 'and what is the 
matter with Lord Wandle?' 

'You must know!' said Marcella, indignantly. 

'Oh, you must have seen that case in the paper last 

week that shocking case ! A woman and two children 

died in one of his cottages of blood-poisoning 

[ 355 ] 


nothing in the world but his neglect his brutal neg- 
lect!' Her breast heaved; she seemed almost on the 
point of weeping. 'The agent was appealed to did 
nothing. Then the clergyman wrote to him direct, 
and got an answer. The answer was published. For 
cruel insolence I never saw anything like it! He 
ought to be in prison for manslaughter and he 
comes here! And people laugh and talk with him 1 / 

She stopped, almost choked by her own passion. 
But the incident, after all, was only the spark to the 

Lady Winterbourne stared at her helplessly. 

'Perhaps it isn't true/ she suggested. 'The news- 
papers put in so many lies, especially about us the 
landlords. Edward says one ought never to believe 
t them. Ah, here comes Aldous/ 

Aldous, indeed, with some perplexity on his brow, 
was to be seen approaching, looking for his betrothed. 
Marcella dropped her fan and sat erect, her angry 
colour fading into whiteness. 

'My darling ! I could n't think what had become of 
you. May I bring Lord Wandle and introduce him to 
you? He is an old friend here, and my godfather. Not 
that I am particularly proud of the relationship/ he 
said, dropping his voice as he stooped over her. 'He 
is a soured, disagreeable fellow, and I hate many of 
the things he does. But it is an old tie, and my grand- 
father is tender of such things. Only a word or two ; 
then I will get rid of him/ 

'Aldous, I can't/ said Marcella, looking up at him. 
'How could I? I saw that case. I must be rude to 

[ 356 ] 


Aldous looked considerably disturbed. 

'It was very bad/ he said, slowly. 'I did n't know 
you had seen it. What shall I do? I promised to go 
back for him.' 

'Lord Wandle Miss Boyce!' said Miss Raeburn's 
sharp little voice behind Aldous. Aldous, moving aside 
in hasty dismay, saw his aunt, looking very de- 
termined, presenting her tall neighbour, who bowed 
with old-fashioned deference to the girl on the sofa. 

Lady Winterbourne looked with trepidation at 
Marcella. But the social instinct held, to some ex- 
tent. Ninety-nine women can threaten a scene of the 
kind Lady Winterbourne dreaded, for one that can 
carry it through. Marcella wavered; then, with her 
most forbidding air, she made a scarcely perceptible 
return of Lord Wandle 's bow. 

'Did you escape in here out of the heat?' he asked 
her. ' But I am afraid no one lets you escape to-night. 
The occasion is too interesting.' 

Marcella made no reply. Lady Winterbourne threw 
in a nervous remark on the crowd. 

'Oh, yes, a great crush,' said Lord Wandle. 'Of 
course, we all come to see Aldous happy. How long is 
it, Miss Boyce, since you settled at Mellor?' 

'Six months.' 

She looked straight before her and not at him as she 
answered, and her tone made Miss Raeburn's blood 

Lord Wandle a battered, coarsened, but still 
magnificent looking man of sixty examined the 
speaker an instant from half -shut eyes, then put up 
his hand to his moustache with a half -smile. 
[ 357 ] 


'You like the country?' 


As she spoke her reluctant monosyllable, the girl 
had really no conception of the degree of hostility 
expressed in her manner. Instead she was hating 
herself for her own pusillanimity. 

'And the people?' 

'Some of them/ 

And straightway she raised her fierce black eyes to 
his, and the man before her understood, as plainly 
as any one need understand, that, whoever else Miss 
Boyce might like, she did not like Lord Wandle, and 
wished for no more conversation with him. 

Her interrogator turned to Aldous with smiling 

'Thank you, my dear Aldous. Now let me retire. 
No one must monopolise your charming lady/ 

And again he bowed low to her, this time with an 
ironical emphasis not to be mistaken, and walked 

Lady Winterbourne saw him go up to his wife, who 
had followed him at a distance, and speak to her 
roughly with a frown. They left the room, and 
presently, through the other door of the library which 
opened on the corridor, she saw them pass, as though 
they were going to their carriage. 

Marcella rose. She looked first at Miss Raeburn 
then at Aldous. 

'Will you take me away?' she said, going up to him; 
'I am tired take me to your room/ 

He put her hand inside his arm, and they pushed 
their way through the crowd. Outside in the passage 
[ 358 ] 


they met Hallin. He had not seen her before, and he 
put out his hand. But there was something distant in 
his gentle greeting which struck at this moment like a 
bruise on Marcella's quivering nerves. It came across 
her that for some time past he had made no further 
advances to her ; that his first eager talk of friendship 
between himself and her had dropped ; that his ac- 
ceptance of her into his world and Aldous's was some- 
how suspended in abeyance. She bit her lip tightly 
and hurried Aldous along. Again the same lines of 
gay, chatting people along the corridor, and on either 
side of the wide staircase greetings, introduction 
a nightmare of publicity. 

'Rather pronounced to carry him off like that/ 
said a clergyman to his wife with a kindly smile, as 
the two tall figures disappeared along the upper 
gallery. 'She will have him all to herself before long/ 

Aldous shut the door of his sitting-room behind 
them. Marcella quickly drew her hand out of his arm, 
and going forward to the mantelpiece rested both 
elbows upon it and hid her face. 

He looked at her a moment in distress and aston- 
ishment, standing a little apart. Then he saw that 
she was crying. The colour flooded into his face, and 
going up to her he took her hand, which was all she 
would yield him, and, holding it to his lips, said in her 
ear every soothing, tender word that love's tutoring 
could bring to mind. In his emotion he told himself 
and her that he admired and loved her the more for 
the incident downstairs, for the temper she had 
shown! She alone among them all had had the 
[ 359 ] 


courage to strike the true stern Christian note. As 
to the annoyance such courage might bring upon him 
and her in the future even as to the trouble it 
might cause his own dear folk what real matter? 
In these things she should lead. 

What could love have asked better than such a 
moment? Yet Marcella's weeping was in truth the 
weeping of despair. This man's very sweetness to 
her, his very assumption of the right to comfort and 
approve her, roused in her a desperate stifled sense of 
bonds that should never have been made, and that 
now could not be broken. It was all plain to her at 
last. His touch had no thrill for her; his frown no 
terror. She had accepted him without loving him, 
coveting what he could give her. And now it seemed 
to her that she cared nothing for anything he could 
give ! that the life before her was to be one series of 
petty conflicts between her and a surrounding cir- 
cumstance which must inevitably in the end be too 
strong for her, conflicts from which neither heart nor 
ambition could gain anything. She had desired a 
great position for what she might do with it. But 
what could she do with it? She would be subdued 
oh ! very quickly ! to great houses and great people, 
and all the vapid pomp and idle toil of wealth. All 
that picture of herself, stooping from place and power, 
to bind up the wounds of the people, in which she 
had once delighted, was to her now a mere flimsy vul- 
garity. She had been shown other ideals other 
ways and her pulses were still swaying under the 
audacity the virile, inventive force of the showman. 
Everything she had once desired looked flat to her; 
[ 360 ] 


everything she was not to have, glowed and shone. 
Poverty, adventure, passion, the joys of self-realisation 
these she gave up. She would become Lady Max- 
well, make friends with Miss Raeburn, and wear the 
family diamonds! 

Then, in the midst of her rage with herself and fate, 
she drew herself away, looked up, and caught full 
the eyes of Aldous Raeburn. Conscience stung and 
burned. What was this life she had dared to trifle 
with this man she had dared to treat as a mere 
pawn in her own game? She gave way utterly, ap- 
palled at her own misdoing, and behaved like a pen- 
itent child. Aldous, astonished and alarmed by her 
emotions and by the wild, incoherent things she said, 
won his way at last to some moments of divine happi- 
ness, when, leaving her trembling hand in his, she 
sat submissively beside him, gradually quieting down, 
summoning back her smiles and her beauty, and letting 
him call her all the fond names he would. 


SCARCELY a word was exchanged between Marcella 
and her mother on the drive home. Yet under ordin- 
ary circumstances Marcella's imagination would have 
found some painful exercise in the effort to find out 
in what spirit her mother had taken the evening - 
the first social festivity in which Richard Boyce's wife 
had taken part for sixteen years. In fact, Mrs. Boyce 
had gone through it very quietly. After her first pub- 
lic entry on Lord Maxwell's arm she had sat in her 
corner, taking keen note of everything, enjoying prob- 
ably the humours of her kind. Several old acquaint- 
ances who had seen her at Mellor as a young wife in 
her first married years had come up with some trepi- 
dation to speak to her. She had received them with 
her usual well-bred indifference, and they had gone 
away under the impression that she regarded herself 
as restored to society by this great match that her 
daughter was making. Lady Winterbourne had been 
shyly and therefore formidably kind to her; and both 
Lord Maxwell and Miss Raeburn had been genuinely 
interested in smoothing the effort to her as much as 
they could. She meanwhile watched Marcella ex- 
cept through the encounter with Lord Wandle, which 
she did not see and found some real pleasure in 
talking both to Aldous and to Hallin. 

Yet all through she was preoccupied, and towards 
the end very anxious to get home, a state of mind 
[ 362 ] 


which prevented her from noticing Marcella's changed 
looks, after her reappearance with Aldous in the ball- 
room, as closely as she otherwise might have done. 
Yet the mother had observed that the end of Marcella's 
progress had been somewhat different from the be- 
ginning; that the girl's greetings had been gentler, 
her smiles softer ; and that in particular she had taken 
some pains, some wistful pains, to make Hallin talk 
to her. Lord Maxwell ignorant of the Wandle in- 
cident was charmed with her, and openly said so, 
both to the mother and Lady Winterbourne, in his 
hearty old man's way. Only Miss Raeburn held in- 
dignantly aloof, and would not pretend, even to Mrs. 

And now Marcella was tired dead tired, she said 
to herself, both in mind and body. She lay back in the 
carriage, trying to sink herself in her own fatigue, to 
forget everything, to think of nothing. Outside the 
night was mild, and the moon clear. For some days 
past, after the break-up of the long frost, there had 
been heavy rain. Now the rain had cleared away, 
and in the air there was already an early promise of 
spring. As she walked home from the village that 
afternoon she had felt the buds and the fields stirring. 

When they got home, Mrs. Boyce turned to her 
daughter at the head of the stairs, 'Shall I unlace 
your dress, Marcella?' 

'Oh no, thank you. Can I help you?' 

'No. Good-night.' 

'Mamma!' Marcella turned and ran after her. 'I 
should like to know how papa is. I will wait here if you 
will tell me.' 

I 363 ] 


Mrs. Boyce looked surprised. Then she went into 
her room and shut the door. Marcella waited outside, 
leaning against the old oak gallery which ran round 
the hall, her candle the one spot of light and life in the 
great dark house. 

'He seems to have slept well/ said Mrs. Boyce, re- 
appearing, and speaking under her breath. 'He has 
not taken the opiate I left for him, so he cannot have 
been in pain. Good-night/ 

Marcella kissed her and went. Somehow, in her de- 
pression of nerve and will, she was loth to go away 
by herself. The loneliness of the night, and of her 
wing of the house, weighed upon her ; the noises made 
by the old boards under her steps, the rustling 
draughts from the dark passages to right and left 
startled and troubled her; she found herself childishly 
fearing lest her candle should go out. 

Yet, as she descended the two steps to the passage 
outside her door, she could have felt little practical 
need of it, for the moonlight was streaming in through 
its uncovered windows, not directly, but reflected 
from the Tudor front of the house which ran at right 
angles to this passage, and was to-night a shining 
silver palace, every battlement, window, and mould- 
ing in sharpest light and shade under the radiance of 
the night. Beneath her feet, as she looked out into 
Cedar Garden, was a deep triangle of shadow, thrown 
by that part of the building in which she stood ; and 
beyond the garden the barred black masses of the 
cedars closing up the view lent additional magic to 
the glittering unsubstantial fabric of the moonlit house, 
which was, as it were, embosomed and framed among 
[ 364 ] 


them. She paused a moment, struck by the strangeness 
and beauty of the spectacle. The Tudor front had 
the air of some fairy banqueting-hall lit by unearthly 
hands for some weird gathering of ghostly knights. 
Then she turned to her room, impatiently longing in 
her sick fatigue to be quit of her dress and ornaments 
and tumble into sleep. 

Yet she made no hurry. She fell on the first chair 
that offered. Her candle behind her had little power 
over the glooms of the dark tapestried room, but it 
did serve to illuminate the lines of her own form, as 
she saw it reflected in the big glass of her wardrobe, 
straight in front of her. She sat with her hands round 
her knees, absently looking at herself, a white, long- 
limbed apparition struck out of the darkness. But she 
was conscious of nothing save one mounting, over- 
whelming, passionate desire, almost a cry. 

Mr. Wharton must go away he must or she 
could not bear it. 

Quick alternations of insight, memory, self -recogni- 
tion, self -surrender, rose and broke upon her. At last, 
physical weariness recalled her. She put up her hands 
to take off her pearls. 

As she did so, she started, hearing a noise that 
made her turn her head. Just outside her door a little 
spiral staircase led down from her corridor to the one 
below, which ran at the back of the old library, and 
opened into the Cedar Garden at its further end. 

Steps surely light steps along the corridor out- 
side, and on the staircase. Nor did they die away. 
She could still hear them, as she sat, arrested, strain- 
ing her ears, pacing slowly along the lower passage. 
[ 365 ] 


Her heart, after its pause, leapt into fluttering life. 
This room of hers, the two passages, the library, and 
the staircase, represented that part of the house to 
which the ghost-stories of Mellor clung most persist- 
ently. Substantially the block of building was of early 
Tudor date, but the passages and the staircase had 
been alterations made with some clumsiness at the 
time of the erection of the eighteenth-century front, 
with a view to bringing these older rooms into the 
general plan. Marcella, however, might demonstrate 
as she pleased that the Boyce who was supposed to 
have stabbed himself on the staircase died at least 
forty years before the staircase was made. None the 
less, no servant would go alone, if she could help it, 
into either passage after dark; and there was much 
excited marvelling how Miss Boyce could sleep where 
she did. Deacon abounded in stories of things spir- 
itual and peripatetic, of steps, groans, lights in the 
library, and the rest. Marcella had consistently 
laughed at her. 

Yet all the same she had made in secret a very dil- 
igent pursuit of this ghost, settling in the end to a 
certain pique with him that he would not show him- 
self to so ardent a daughter of the house. She had 
sat up waiting for him ; she had lingered in the corridor 
outside, and on the stairs, expecting him. By the 
help of a favourite carpenter she had made researches 
into roofs, water-pipes, panelling, and old cupboards, 
in the hope of finding a practical clue to him. In vain. 

Yet here were the steps regular, soft, unmistake- 
able. The colour rushed back into her cheeks! Her 
eager healthy youth forgot its woes, flung off its weari- 
[ 366 ] 


ness, and panted for an adventure, a discovery. Spring- 
ing up, she threw her fur wrap round her again, and 
gently opened the door, listening. 

For a minute, nothing then a few vague sounds as 
of something living and moving down below surely 
in the library? Then the steps again. Impossible 
that it should be any one breaking in. No burglar 
would walk so leisurely. She closed her door behind 
her, and, gathering her white satin skirts about her, 
she descended the staircase. 

The corridor below was in radiant moonlight, 
chequered by the few pieces of old furniture it con- 
tained, and the black-and-white of the old portrait 
prints hanging on the walls. At first her seeking, ex- 
cited eyes could make out nothing. Then in a flash 
they perceived the figure of Wharton at the further 
end near the garden door, leaning against one of the 
windows. He was apparently looking out at the moon- 
lit house, and she caught the faint odour of a cigarette. 

Her first instinct was to turn and fly. But Wharton 
had seen her. As he looked about him at the sound 
of her approach, the moon, which was just rounding 
the corner of the house, struck on her full, amid the 
shadows of the staircase, and she heard his exclama- 

Dignity a natural pride made her pause. She 
came forward slowly he eagerly. 

'I heard footsteps/ she said, with a coldness under 
which he plainly saw her embarrassment. 'I could 
not suppose that anybody was still up, so I came down 
to see/ 

He was silent a moment, scanning her with laugh- 
[ 367 ] 


ing eyes. Then he shook his head. 'Confess you took 
me for the ghost ! ' he said. 

She hesitated; then must laugh too. She herself 
had told him the stories, so that his guess was natural. 

'Perhaps I did/ she said. 'One more disappoint- 
ment! Good-night/ 

He looked after her a quick, undecided moment as 
she made a step in front of him, then at the half -burnt 
cigarette he held in his hand, threw the end away 
with a hasty gesture, overtook her and walked beside 
her along the corridor. 

'I heard you and your mother come in/ he said, 
as though explaining himself. 'Then I waited till I 
thought you must both be asleep, and came down 
here to look at that wonderful effect on the old house/ 
He pointed to the silver palace outside. 'I have a 
trick of being sleepless a trick, too, of wandering 
at night. My own people know it, and bear with me, 
but I am abashed that you should have found me out. 
Just tell me in one word how the ball went?' 

He paused at the foot of the stairs, his hands on 
his sides, as keenly wide-awake as though it were three 
o'clock in the afternoon instead of three in the morn- 

Woman-like, her mood instantly shaped itself to his. 

'It went very well/ she said, perversely, putting her 
satin-slippered foot on the first step. 'There were six 
hundred people upstairs, and four hundred coachmen 
and footmen downstairs, according to our man. Every- 
body said it was splendid/ 

His piercing, enigmatic gaze could not leave her. 
As he had often frankly warned her, he was a man in 
[ 368 ] 


quest of sensations. Certainly, in this strange meet- 
ing with Aldous Raeburn's betrothed, in the midst 
of the sleep-bound house, he had found one. Her eyes 
were heavy, her cheek pale. But in this soft vague 
light white arms and neck now hidden, now re- 
vealed by the cloak she had thrown about her glisten- 
ing satin she was more enchanting than he had 
ever seen her. His breath quickened. 

He said to himself that he would make Miss Boyce 
stay and talk to him. What harm to her or to 
Raeburn? Raeburn would have chances enough be- 
fore long. Why admit his monopoly before the time? 
She was not in love with him ! As to Mrs. Grundy 
absurd! What in the true reasonableness of things 
was to prevent human beings from conversing by night 
as well as by day? 

'One moment' --he said, delaying her. 'You must 
be dead tired too tired for romance. Else I should 
say to you, turn aside an instant and look at the 
library. It is a sight to remember/ 

Inevitably she glanced behind her, and saw that 
the library door was ajar. He flung it open, and the 
great room showed wide, its high domed roof lost in 
shadow, while along the bare floor and up the latticed 
books crept, here streaks and fingers, and there wide 
breadths of light from the unshuttered and curtainless 

'Is n't it the very poetry of night and solitude?' he 
said, looking in with her. 'You love the place; but 
did you ever see it so loveable? The dead are here; 
you did right to come and seek them! Look at your 
namesake, in that ray. To-night she lives ! She knows 
[ 369 ] 


that is her husband opposite those are her books 
beside her. And the rebel ! ' - - he pointed smiling to 
the portrait of John Boyce. 'When you are gone I 
shall shut myself up here sit in his chair, invoke 
him and put my speech together. I am nervous 
about to-morrow' (he was bound, as she knew, to a 
large Labour Congress in the Midlands, where he was 
to preside), 'and sleep will make no terms with me. 
Ah! how strange! Who can that be passing the 

He made a step or two into the room, and put up 
his hand to his brow, looking intently. Involuntarily, 
yet with a thrill, Marcella followed. They walked to 
the window. 

'It is Hurd!' she cried, in a tone of distress, pressing 
her face against the glass. ' Out at this time, and with 
a gun ! Oh, dear, dear ! ' 

There could be no question that it was Hurd. Whar- 
ton had seen him linger in the shadowy edge of the 
avenue, as though reconnoitring, and now, as he 
stealthily crossed the moonlit grass, his slouching 
dwarf's figure, his large head, and the short gun under 
his arm, were all plainly visible. 

'What do you suppose he is after?' said Wharton, 
still gazing, his hands in his pockets. 

'I don't know; he would n't poach on our land; I'm 
sure he would n't ! Besides, there is nothing to poach.' 
Wharton smiled. 'He must be going, after all, 
to Lord Maxwell's coverts! They are just beyond the 
avenue, on the side of the hill. Oh ! it is too disap- 
pointing! Can we do anything?' 

She looked at her companion with troubled eyes. 
[ 370 ] 


This incursion of something sadly and humanly real 
seemed suddenly to have made it natural to be stand- 
ing beside him there at that strange hour. Her con- 
science was soothed. 

Wharton shook his head. 

'I don't see what we could do. How strong the in- 
stinct is ! I told you that woman had a secret. Well, 
it is only one form the squalid peasant's form - 
of the same instinct which sends the young fellows of 
our class ruffling it and chancing it all over the world. 
It is the instinct to take one's fling, to get out of the 
rut, to claim one's innings against the powers that be 
Nature, or the law, or convention/ 

'I know all that I never blame them!' cried 
Marcella 'but just now it is so monstrous so 
dangerous! Westall specially alert and this gang 
about! Besides, I got him work from Lord Maxwell, 
and made him promise me for the wife and child- 
ren's sake.' 

Wharton shrugged his shoulders. 

' I should think Westall is right, and that the gang 

have got hold of him. It is what always happens. The 

local man is the cat's-paw. So you are sorry for him 

- this man?' he said, in another tone, facing round 

upon her. 

She looked astonished, and drew herself up nerv- 
ously, turning at the same time to leave the room. 
But before she could reply he hurried on : 

'He may escape his risk. Give your pity, Miss 
Boyce, rather to one who has not escaped ! ' 

'I don't know what you mean,' she said, uncon- 
sciously laying a hand on one of the old chairs beside 
[ 371 ] 


her to steady herself. 'But it is too late to talk. 
Good-night, Mr. Wharton.' 

'Good-bye/ he said, quietly, yet with a low empha- 
sis, at the same time moving out of her path. She 
stopped, hesitating. Beneath the lace and faded 
flowers on her breast he could see how her heart beat. 

'Not good-bye? You are coming back after the 

' I think not. I must not inflict myself on Mrs. 
Boyce any more. You will all be very busy during 
the next three weeks. It would be an intrusion if I 
were to come back at such a time especially - 
considering the fact' - - he spoke slowly 'that I am 
as distasteful as I now know myself to be, to your 
future husband. Since you all left to-night the house 
has been very quiet. I sat over the fire thinking. It 
grew clear to me. I must go, and go at once. Besides 
a lonely man as I am must not risk his nerve. His 
task is set him, and there are none to stand by him 
if he fails/ 

She trembled all over. Weariness and excitement 
made normal self-control almost impossible. 

'Well, then, I must say thank you/ she said, in- 
distinctly, 'for you have taught me a great deal/ 

'You will unlearn it!' he said, gaily, recovering his 
self-possession, so it seemed, as she lost hers. ' Besides, 
before many weeks are over you will have heard hard 
things of me. I know that very well. I can say nothing 
to meet them. Nor should I attempt anything. It 
may sound brazen, but that past of mine, which I can 
see perpetually present in Aldous Raeburn's mind, for 
instance, and which means so much to his good aunt, 

[ 372 ] 


means to me just nothing at all! The doctrine of 
identity must be true I must be the same person 
I was then. But, all the same, what I did then does 
not matter a straw to me now. To all practical pur- 
poses I am another man. I was then a youth, idle, 
desceuvre, playing with all the keys of life in turn. I 
have now unlocked the path that suits me. Its quest 
has transformed me as I believe, ennobled me. I 
do not ask Raeburn or any one else to believe it. It is 
my own affair. Only, if we ever meet again in life, 
you and I, and you think you have reason to ask 
humiliation of me, do not ask it, do not expect it. 
The man you will have in your mind has nothing to 
do with me. I will not be answerable for his sins/ 

As he said these things he was leaning lightly for- 
ward, looking up at her, his arms resting on the back 
of one of the old chairs, one foot crossed over the other. 
The attitude was easy calm itself. The tone indom- 
itable, analytic, reflective matched it. Yet, all the 
same, her woman's instinct divined a hidden agitation, 
and, woman-like, responded to that and that only. 

'Mr. Raeburn will never tell me old stories about 
anybody/ she said, proudly. 'I asked him once, out 
out of curiosity about you, and he would tell 
me nothing/ 

'Generous'/ said Wharton, dryly. 'I am grateful/ 

'No !' cried Marcella, indignantly, rushing blindly at 
the outlet for emotion. 'No! you are not grate- 
ful ; you are always judging him harshly criticising, 
despising what he does/ 

Wharton was silent a moment. Even in the moon- 
light she could see the reddening of his cheek. 
[ 373 ] 


'So be it/ he said at last. ' I submit. You must know 
best. But you? are you always content? Does this 
milieu into which you are passing always satisfy you? 
To-night, did your royalty please you? will it soon be 
enough for you?' 

'You know it is not enough/ she broke out, hotly; 
'it is insulting that you should ask in that tone. It 
means that you think me a hypocrite ! and I have 
given you no cause ' 

'Good Heavens, no!' he exclaimed, interrupting her, 
and speaking in a low, hurried voice. ' I had no motive, 
no reason for what I said none but this, that 
you are going that we are parting. I spoke in gibes 
to make you speak somehow to strike to reach 
you. To-morrow it will be too late ! ' 

And before, almost, she knew that he had moved, 
he had stooped forward, caught a fold of her dress, 
pressed it to his lips, and dropped it. 

'Don't speak/ he said, brokenly, springing up, and 
standing before her in her path. 'You shall forgive 
me I will compel it ! See ! here we are on this moon- 
lit space of floor, alone, in the night. Very probably 
we shall never meet again, except as strangers. Put 
off convention, and speak to me, soul to soul! You 
are not happy altogether in this marriage. I know it. 
You have as good as confessed it. Yet you will go 
through with it. You have given your word your 
honour holds you. I recognise that it holds you. I 
say nothing, not a syllable, against your bond! But 
here, to-night, tell me, promise me that you will make 
this marriage of yours serve our hopes and ends, the 
ends that you and I have foreseen together that 
[ 374 ] 

He caught a fold of her dress pressed it to his lips 


it shall be your instrument, not your chain. We have 
been six weeks together. You say you have learnt 
from me; you have! you have given me your mind, 
your heart to write on, and I have written. Hence- 
forward you will never look at life as you might have 
done if I had not been here. Do you think I triumph, 
that I boast? Ah!' he drew in his breath 'what 
if in helping you, and teaching you for I have 
helped and taught you! I have undone myself? 
What if I came here the slave of impersonal causes, 
of ends not my own? What if I leave maimed 
in face of the battle? Not your fault? No, perhaps 
not! but, at -least, you owe me some gentleness 
now, in these last words some kindness in fare- 

He came closer, held out his hands. With one of 
her own she put his back, and lifted the other dizzily 
to her forehead. 

'Don't come near me!' she said, tottering. 'What 
is it? I cannot see. Go!' 

And guiding herself, as though blindfold, to a chair, 
she sank upon it, and her head dropped. It was the 
natural result of a moment of intense excitement com- 
ing upon nerves already strained and tried to their 
utmost. She fought desperately against her weakness ; 
but there was a moment when all around her swam, 
and she knew nothing. 

Then came a strange awakening. What was this 
room, this weird light, these unfamiliar forms of things, 
this warm support against which her cheek lay? She 
opened her eyes languidly. They met Wharton's half 
in wonder. He was kneeling beside her, holding her. 
[ 375 ] 


But for an instant she realised nothing except his 
look, to which her own helplessly replied. 

'Once!' she heard him whisper. 'Once! Then 
nothing more for ever/ 

And stooping, slowly, deliberately, he kissed her. 

In a stinging flow, life, shame, returned upon her. 
She struggled to her feet, pushing him from her. 

'You dared/ she said, 'dared such a thing!' 

She could say no more; but her attitude, fiercely 
instinct, through all her physical weakness, with her 
roused best self, was speech enough. He did not ven- 
ture to approach her. She walked away. He heard 
the door close, hurrying steps on the little stairs, then 

He remained where she had left him, leaning against 
the latticed wall for some time. When he moved, it 
was to pick up a piece of maidenhair which had 
dropped from her dress. 

'That was a scene!' he said, looking at it, and at 
the trembling of his own hand. 'It carries one back to 
the days of the Romantics. Was I Alfred de Musset? 

and she George Sand? Did any of them ever taste 
a more poignant moment than I when she lay 
upon my breast? To be helpless yet yield nothing 

it challenged me ! Yet I took no advantage none. 
When she looked when her eye, her soul, was, for 
that instant, mine, then! Well! the world has 
rushed with me since I saw her on the stairs ; life can 
bring me nothing of such a quality again. What did 
I say? how much did I mean? My God ! how can I 
tell? I began as an actor, did I finish as a man?' 

He paced up and down, thinking; gradually, by 
[ 376 ] 


the help of an iron will quieting down each rebellious 

'That poacher fellow did me a good turn. Dare! 
the word galled. But, after all, what woman could 
say less? And what matter? I have held her in my 
arms, in a setting under the moon worthy of her. 
Is not life enriched thereby beyond robbery? And 
what harm? Raeburn is not injured. She will never 
tell and neither of us will ever forget. Ah ! what 
was that?' 

He walked quickly to the window. What he had 
heard had been a dull report, coming apparently from 
the woods beyond the eastern side of the avenue. As 
he reached the window it was followed by a second. 

'That poacher's gun? no doubt 1 / --he strained 
his eyes in vain. 'Collision perhaps and mischief? 
No matter ! I have nothing to do with it. The world 
is all lyric for me to-night. . I can hear it in no other 

The night passed away. When the winter morning 
broke, Marcella was lying with wide, sleepless eyes, 
waiting and pining for it. Her candle still burnt beside 
her ; she had had no courage for darkness, nor the 
smallest desire for sleep. She had gone through shame 
and anguish. But she would have scorned to pity 
herself. Was it not her natural, inevitable por- 

'I will tell Aldous everything everything/ she said 
to herself for the hundredth time, as the light pen- 
etrated. 'Was that only seven striking seven im- 

[ 377 ] 


She sat up haggard and restless, hardly able to bear 
the thought of the hours that must pass before she 
could see Aldous put all to the touch. 

Suddenly she remembered Hurd then old Patton. 

'He was dying last night/ she thought, in her moral 
torment her passion to get away from herself. 'Is 
he gone? This is the hour when old people die the 
dawn. I will go and see go at once/ 

She sprang up. To baffle this ache within her by 
some act of repentance, of social amends, however 
small, however futile to propitiate herself, if but 
by a hairbreadth this, no doubt, was the instinct 
at work. She dressed hastily, glad of the cold, glad 
of the effort she had to make against the stiffness of her 
own young bones glad of her hunger and f aintness, 
of everything physically hard that had to be fought 
and conquered. 

In a very short time she had passed quietly down- 
stairs and through the hall, greatly to the amazement 
of William, who opened the front door for her. Once 
in the village road the damp raw air revived her greatly. 
She lifted her hot temples to it, welcoming the waves 
of wet mist that swept along the road, feeling her 
youth come back to her. 

Suddenly as she was nearing the end of a narrow 
bit of lane between high hedges, and the first houses 
of the village were in sight, she was stopped by a noise 
behind her a strange, unaccountable noise as of 
women's voices, calling and wailing. It startled and 
frightened her, and she stood in the middle of the 
road waiting. 

Then she saw coming towards her two women run- 
[ 378 ] 


ning at full speed, crying and shouting, their aprons 
up to their faces. 

'What is it? What is the matter?' she asked, going 
to meet them, and recognising two labourers' wives 
she knew. 

' Oh ! Miss oh ! Miss ! ' said the foremost, too wrapt 
up in her news to be surprised at the sight of her. 
'They've just found him they're bringin ov 'im 
home; they've got a shutter from Muster Wellin! 'im 
at Disley Farm. It wor close by Disley Wood they 
found 'em. And there's one ov 'is men they've sent 
off ridin for the inspector here he come, Miss! 
Come out o' th' way!' 

They dragged her back, and a young labourer gal- 
loped past them on a farm colt, urging it on to its full 
pace, his face red and set. 

'Who is found?' cried Marcella. 'What is it?' 

' Westall, Miss Lor bless you shot him in the 
head they did blowed his brains right out and 
Charlie Dynes oh! he's knocked about shamful the 
doctor don't give no hopes of him. Oh deary deary 
me! And we're goin for Muster Harden 'ee must 
tell the widder or Miss Mary none on us can ! ' 

'And who did it?' said Marcella, pale with horror, 
holding her. 

'Why the poachers, Miss. Them as they've bin 
waitin for all along and they do say as Jim Hurd's 
in it. Oh Lord, oh Lord!' 

Marcella stood petrified, and let them hurry on. 


J-HE lane was still again, save for the unwonted 
sounds coming from the groups which had gathered 
round the two women, and were now moving be- 
side them along the village street a hundred yards 

Marcella stood in a horror of memory seeing 
Kurd's figure cross the moonlit avenue from dark to 
dark. Where was he? Had he escaped? Suddenly she 
set off running, stung by the thought of what might 
have already happened under the eyes of that un- 
happy wife, those wretched children. 

As she entered the village, a young fellow ran up 
to her in breathless excitement. "They've got 'im, 
Miss. He'd come straight home 'ad n't made no 
attempt to run. As soon as Jenkins' (Jenkins was 
the policeman) 'beared of it, 'ee went straight across 
to 'is house, an caught 'im. 'Ee wor goin to make off 
- 'is wife 'ad been persuadin ov 'im all night. But 
they've got him, Miss, sure enough !' 

The lad's exultation was horrible. Marcella waved 
him aside and ran on. A man on horseback appeared 
on the road in front of her leading from Widrington 
to the village. She recognised Aldous Raeburn, who 
had checked his horse in sudden amazement as he 
saw her talking to the boy. 

'My darling! what are you here for? Oh! go home 
go home! out of this horrible business. They 

[ 380 ] 


have sent for me as a magistrate. Dynes is alive I 
beg you ! go home ! ' 

She shook her head, out of breath and speechless 
with running. At the same moment she and he, look- 
ing to the right, caught sight of the crowd standing 
in front of Kurd's cottage. 

A man ran out from it, seeing the horse and its rider. 

'Muster Raeburn! Muster Raeburn! They've 
cotched 'im; Jenkins has got 'im.' 

'Ah!' said Aldous, drawing a long, stern breath; 
'he did n't try to get off, then? Marcella! you are 
not going there to that house!' 

He spoke in a tone of the strongest remonstrance. 
Her soul rose in anger against it. 

'I am going to her/ she said, panting; 'don't wait/ 

And she left him and hurried on. 

As soon as the crowd round the cottage saw her 
coming, they divided to let her pass. 

'She's quiet now, Miss,' said a woman to her signi- 
ficantly, nodding towards the hovel. 'Just after 
Jenkins got in you could hear her crying out pitiful/ 

'That was when they wor a-handcuffin him,' said 
a man beside her. 

Marcella shuddered. 

'Will they let me in?' she asked. 

'They won't let none oviis in/ said theman. 'There's 
Kurd's sister,' and he pointed to a weeping woman 
supported by two others. 'They've kep her out. But 
here's the inspector, Miss; you ask him.' 

The inspector, a shrewd officer of long experience, 
fetched in haste from a mile's distance, galloped up, 
and gave his horse to a boy. 

[ 381 ] 


Marcella went up to him. 

He looked at her with sharp interrogation. 'You are 
Miss Boy ce? Miss Boyce of Mellor?' 

'Yes, I want to go to the wife; I will promise not to 
get in your way/ 

He nodded. The crowd let them pass. The inspector 
knocked at the door, which was cautiously unlocked 
by Jenkins, and the two went in together. 

'She's a queer one/ said a thin, weasel-eyed man in 
the crowd to his neighbour. 'To think o' her bein 
in it at this time o' day. You could see Muster 
Raeburn was a tellin of her to go 'ome. But she's 
allus pampered them Kurds/ 

The speaker was Ned Patton, old Patton 's son, and 
Kurd's companion on many a profitable night-walk. 
It was barely a week since he had been out with Kurd 
on another ferreting expedition, some of the proceeds 
of which were still hidden in Patton J s outhouse. But 
at the present moment he was one of the keenest of 
the crowd, watching eagerly for the moment when he 
should see his old comrade come out, trapped and 
checkmated, bound safely and surely to the gallows. 
The natural love of incident and change which keeps 
life healthy had been starved in him by his labourer's 
condition. This sudden excitement had made a brute 
of him. 

The man next him grimaced, and took his pipe out 
of his mouth a moment. 

'She won't be able to do nothin for 'im ! Ther is n't 

a man nor boy in this 'ere place as did n't know as 'ee 

hated Westall like pison, and would be as like as 

not to do for 'im some day. That'll count agen 'im 

[ 382 ] 

A Field of Tragedy 


now terrible strong! 'Ee wor allus one to blab, 'ee 

'Well, an Westall said jus as much!' struck in 
another voice; 'theer wor sure to be a fight iv ever 
Westall got at 'im on the job. You see they may 
bring it in manslarter after all.' 

"Ow does any one know 'ee wor there at all? who 
seed him?' inquired a white-haired, elderly man, rais- 
ing a loud, quavering voice from the middle of the 

'Charlie Dynes seed 'im,' cried several together. 

'How do yer know 'ee seed 'im?' 

From the babel of voices which followed, the white- 
haired man slowly gathered the beginnings of the 
matter. Charlie Dynes, Westall's assistant, had been 
first discovered by a horsekeeper in Farmer Wellin's 
employment as he was going to his work. The lad had 
been found under a hedge, bleeding and frightfully in- 
jured, but still alive. Close beside him was the dead 
body of Westall with shot- wounds in the head. On 
being taken to the farm and given brandy, Dynes 
was asked if he had recognised anybody. He had said 
there were five of them, 'town chaps'; and then he 
had named Kurd quite plainly whether anybody 
else, nobody knew. It was said he would die, and that 
Mr. Raeburn had gone to take his deposition. 

'An them town chaps got off, eh?' said the elderly 

' Clean ! ' said Patton, refilling his pipe. ' Trust them ! ' 

Meanwhile, inside this poor cottage Marcella was 
putting out all the powers of the soul. As the door 
closed behind her and the inspector, she saw Hurd sit- 
[ 383 ] 


ting handcuffed in the middle of the kitchen, watched 
by a man whom Jenkins, the local policeman, had got 
in to help him, till some more police should arrive. 
Jenkins was now upstairs searching the bedroom. The 
little bronchitic boy sat on the fender, in front of the 
untidy, fireless grate, shivering, his emaciated face like 
a yellowish-white mask, his eyes fixed immoveably on 
his father. Every now and then he was shaken with 
coughing, but still he looked with the dumb, devoted 
attention of some watching animal. 

Hurd, too, was sitting silent. His eyes, which seemed 
wider open and more brilliant than usual, wandered 
restlessly from thing to thing about the room; his 
great earth-stained hands in their fetters twitched 
every now and then on his knee. Haggard and dirty 
as he was, there was a certain aloofness, a dignity 
even, about the misshapen figure which struck Mar- 
cella strangely. Both criminal and victim may have 
it this dignity. It means that a man feels himself 
set apart from his kind. 

Hurd started at sight of Marcella. 'I want to speak 
to her/ he said, hoarsely, as the inspector approached 
him 'to that lady' - - nodding towards her. 

'Very well/ said the inspector; 'only it is my duty 
to warn you that anything you say now will be taken 
down and used as evidence at the inquest/ 

Marcella came near. As she stood in front of him, 
one trembling, ungloved hand crossed over the other, 
the diamond in her engagement-ring, catching the light 
from the window, sparkled brightly, diverting even 
for the moment the eyes of the little fellow against 
whom her skirts were brushing. 
[ 384 ] 


'Ee might ha killed me just as well as I killed 'im,' 
said Kurd, bending over to her and speaking with 
difficulty from the dryness of his mouth. 'I did n't 
mean no think o' what happened. He and Charlie 
came on us round Disley Wood. He did n't take no 
notice o' them. It was they as beat Charlie. But he 
came straight on at me all in a fury a black- 
guardin ov me, with his stick up. I thought he was for 
beatin my brains out, an I up with my gun and fired. 
He was so close that was how he got it all in the 
head. But 'ee might 'a killed me just as well/ 

He paused, staring at her with a certain anguished 
intensity, as though he were watching to see how she 
took it nay, trying its effect both on her and himself. 
He did not look afraid or cast down nay, there was 
a curious buoyancy and steadiness about his manner 
for the moment which astonished her. She could al- 
most have fancied that he was more alive, more of a 
man than she had ever seen him mind and body 
better fused, more at command. 

'Is there anything more you wish to say to me?' 
she asked him, after waiting. 

Then suddenly his manner changed. Their eyes met. 
Hers, with all their subtle inheritance of various ex- 
pression, their realised character, as it were, searched 
his, tried to understand them those peasant eyes, so 
piercing to her strained sense in their animal urgency 
and shame. Why had he done this awful thing? de- 
ceived her wrecked his wife? that was what her 
look asked. It seemed to her too childish too stupid 
to be believed. 

'I have n't made nobbut a poor return to you, Miss/ 
[ 385 ] 


he said in a shambling way, as though the words were 
dragged out of him. Then he threw up his head again. 
'But I did n't mean nothink o' what happened/ he 
repeated, doggedly going off again into a rapid yet, 
on the whole, vivid and consecutive account of West- 
all's attack, to which Marcella listened, trying to re- 
member every word. 

'Keep that for your solicitor/ the inspector said at 
last, interrupting him; 'you are only giving pain to 
Miss Boyce. You had better let her go to your wife/ 

Hurd looked steadily once more at Marcella. 'It 
be a bad end I'm come to/ he said, after a moment. 
'But I thank you kindly, all the same. They'll want 
seein after/ He jerked his head towards the boy, then 
towards the outhouse or scullery where his wife was. 
'She takes it terr'ble hard. She wanted me to run. 
But I said, "No, I'll stan it out." Mr. Brown at the 
Court '11 give you the bit wages he owes me. But 
they'll have to go on the Union. Everybody '11 turn 
their backs on them now.' 

'I will look after them/ said Marcella, 'and I will 
do the best I can for you. Now I will go to Mrs. 

Minta Hurd was sitting in a corner of the outhouse 
on the clay floor, her head leaning against the wall. 
The face was turned upward, the eyes shut, the mouth 
helplessly open. When Marcella saw her, she knew 
that the unhappy woman had already wept so much 
in the hours since her husband came back to her that 
she could weep no more. The two little girls in the 
scantiest of clothing, half-fastened, sat on the floor 
beside her, shivering and begrimed watching her. 

[ 386 ] 


They had been crying at the tops of their voices, but 
were now only whimpering miserably, and trying at 
intervals to dry their tear-stained cheeks with the 
skirts of their frocks. The baby, wrapped in an old 
shawl, lay on its mother's knee, asleep and unheeded. 
The little lean-to place full of odds and ends of rub- 
bish, and darkened overhead by a string of damp 
clothes was intolerably cold in the damp February 
dawn. The children were blue; the mother felt like 
ice as Marcella stooped to touch her. Outcast misery 
could go no further. 

The mother moaned as she felt Marcella's hand, 
then started wildly forward, straining her thin neck 
and swollen eyes that she might see through the two 
open doors of the kitchen and the outhouse. 

'They're not taking him away?' she said, fiercely. 
'Jenkins swore to me they'd give me notice.' 

'No, he's still there,' said Marcella, her voice shak- 
ing. 'The inspector's come. You shall have notice/ 

Mrs. Kurd recognised her voice, and looked up at 
her in amazement. 

'You must put this on/ said Marcella, taking off 
the short fur cape she wore. 'You are perished. Give 
me the baby, and wrap yourself in it.' 

But Mrs. Kurd put it away from her with a vehem- 
ent hand. 

'I'm not cold, Miss I'm burning hot. He made 
me come in here. He said he'd do better if the child- 
ren and I ud go away a bit. An I could n't go up- 
stairs, because because - ' she hid her face on her 

Marcella had a sudden sick vision of the horrors this 
[ 387 ] 


poor creature must have gone through since her hus- 
band had appeared to her, splashed with the blood 
of his enemy, under that same marvellous moon 
which - 

Her mind repelled its own memories with haste. 
Moreover, she was aware of the inspector standing 
at the kitchen door and beckoning to her. She stole 
across to him so softly that Mrs. Kurd did not hear 

'We have found all we want/ he said, in his official 
tone, but under his breath 'the clothes anyway. 
We must now look for the gun. Jenkins is first going 
to take him off to Widrington. The inquest will be 
held to-morrow here, at The Green Man. We shall 
bring him over/ Then he added in another voice, 
touching his hat, 'I don't like leaving you, Miss, in 
this place. Shall Jenkins go and fetch somebody to 
look after that poor thing? They'll be all swarming 
in here as soon as we've gone/ 

'No, I'll stay for a while. I'll look after her. They 
won't come in if I'm here. Except his sister - 
Mrs. Mullins she may come in, of course, if she 

The inspector hesitated. 

'I'm going now to meet Mr. Raeburn, Miss. I'll 
tell him that you're here/ 

'He knows,' said Marcella, briefly. 'Now are you 

He signed assent, and Marcella went back to the 

'Mrs. Hurd,' she said, kneeling on the ground beside 
her, 'they're going/ 

[ 388 ] 


The wife sprang up with a cry and ran into the 
kitchen, where Kurd was already on his feet between 
Jenkins and another policeman, who were to convey 
him to the gaol at Widrington. But when she came 
face to face with her husband, something perhaps 
the nervous appeal in his strained eyes checked her, 
and she controlled herself piteously. She did not even 
attempt to kiss him. With her eyes on the ground, 
she put her hand on his arm. 'They'll let me come 
and see you, Jim?' she said, trembling. 

'Yes; you can find out the rules/ he said, shortly. 
'Don't let them children cry. They want their break- 
fast to warm them. There's plenty of coal. I brought 
a sack home from Jellaby's last night myself. Good- 

'Now, march/ said the inspector, sternly, pushing 
the wife back. 

Marcella put her arm round the shaking woman. 
The door opened; and beyond the three figures as 
they passed out, her eye passed to the waiting crowd, 
then to the misty expanse of common and the dark 
woods behind, still wrapped in fog. 

When Mrs. Hurd saw the rows of people waiting 
within a stone's throw of the door, she shrank back. 
Perhaps it struck her, as it struck Marcella, that every 
face was the face of a foe. Marcella ran to the door 
as the inspector stepped out, and locked it after him. 
Mrs. Hurd, hiding herself behind a bit of baize cur- 
tain, watched the two policemen mount with Hurd 
into the fly that was waiting, and then followed it with 
her eyes along the bit of straight road, uttering sounds 
the while of low anguish, which wrung the heart in 
[ 389 ] 


Marcella's breast. Looking back in after days it always 
seemed to her that for this poor soul the true parting, 
the true wrench between life and life, came at this 

She went up to her, her own tears running over. 

'You must come and lie down/ she said, recovering 
herself as quickly as possible. 'You and the children 
are both starved, and you will want your strength if 
you are to help him. I will see to things/ 

She put the helpless woman on the wooden settle by 
the fireplace, rolling up her cloak to make a pillow. 

'Now, Willie, you sit by your mother. Daisy, 
where's the cradle? Put the baby down and come and 
help me make the fire/ 

The dazed children did exactly as they were told, 
and the mother lay like a log on the settle. Marcella 
found coal and wood under Daisy's guidance, and soon 
lit the fire, piling on the fuel with a lavish hand. Daisy 
brought her water, and she filled the kettle and set it on 
to boil, while the little girl, still sobbing at intervals 
like some little weeping automaton, laid the breakfast. 
Then the children all crouched round the warmth, 
while Marcella rubbed their cold hands and feet, and 
'mothered 7 them. Shaken as she was with emotion 
and horror, she was yet full of a passionate joy that 
this pity, this tendance was allowed to her. The crush- 
ing weight of self -contempt had lifted. She felt morally 
free and at ease. 

Already she was revolving what she could do for 

Kurd. It was as clear as daylight to her that there had 

been no murder but a free fight an even chance 

between him and Westall. The violence of a hard 

[ 390 ] 


and tyrannous man had provoked his own destruction 
so it stood, for her passionate, protesting sense. 
That at any rate must be the defence, and some able 
man must be found to press it. She thought she would 
write to the Cravens and consult them. Her thoughts 
carefully avoided the names both of Aldous Raeburn 
and of Wharton. 

She was about to make the tea when some one 
knocked at the door. It proved to be Kurd's sister, 
a helpless woman, with a face swollen by crying, who 
seemed to be afraid to come into the cottage, and 
afraid to go near her sister-in-law. Marcella gave her 
money, and sent her for some eggs to the neighbouring 
shop, then told her to come back in half an hour and 
take charge. She was an incapable, but there was 
nothing better to be done. 'Where is Miss Harden?' 
she asked the woman. The answer was that ever since 
the news came to the village the Rector and his sister 
had been with Mrs. Westall and Charlie Dynes's 
mother. Mrs. Westall had gone into fit after fit; it 
had taken two to hold her, and Charlie's mother, who 
was in bed recovering from pneumonia, had also been 
very bad. 

Again Marcella's heart contracted with rage rather 
than pity. Such wrack and waste of human life, moral 
and physical ! for what? For the protection of a hate- 
ful sport which demoralised the rich and their agents, 
no less than it tempted and provoked the poor ! 

When she had fed and physically comforted the 
children, she went and knelt down beside Mrs. Kurd, 
who still lay with closed eyes in heavy-breathing 

[ 391 ] 


'Dear Mrs. Kurd/ she said, 'I want you to drink 
this tea and eat something/ 

The half -stupefied woman signed refusal. But 
Marcella insisted. 

'You have got to fight for your husband's life/ she 
said, firmly, 'and to look after your children. I must 
go in a very short time, and before I go you must tell 
me all that you can of this business. Kurd would tell 
you to do it. He knows and you know that I am to be 
trusted. I want to save him. I shall get a good lawyer 
to help him. But first you must take this and then 
you must talk to me/ 

The habit of obedience to a 'lady/ established long 
ago in years of domestic service, held. The miserable 
wife submitted to be fed, looked with forlorn wonder 
at the children round the fire, and then sank back with 
a groan. In her tension of feeling Marcella for an 
impatient moment thought her a poor creature. Then 
with quick remorse she put her arms tenderly round 
her, raised the dishevelled, grey-streaked head on her 
shoulder, and stooping, kissed the marred face, her 
own lips quivering. 

'You are not alone/ said the girl, with her whole 
soul. 'You shall never be alone while I live. Now 
tell me/ 

She made the white and gasping woman sit up in 
a corner of the settle, and she herself got a stool and 
established herself a little way off, frowning, self- 
contained, and determined to make out the truth. 

'Shall I send the children upstairs?' she asked. 

'No!' said the boy, suddenly, in his husky voice, 
shaking his head with energy, 'I'm not a-going/ 
( 392 ] 


'Oh! he's safe is Willie/ said Mrs. Hurd, looking 
at him, but strangely, and as it were from a long 
distance, 'and the others is too little.' 

Then gradually Marcella got the story out of her 
first, the misery of alarm and anxiety in which she had 
lived ever since the Tudley End raid, owing first to her 
knowledge of Kurd's connexion with it, and with the 
gang that had carried it out; then to her appre- 
ciation of the quick and ghastly growth of the hatred 
between him and Westall; lastly, to her sense of 
ingratitude towards those who had been kind to 

' I knew we was acting bad towards you. I told Jim 
so. I could n't hardly bear to see you come in. But 
there, Miss, I could n't do anything. I tried, oh ! 
the Lord knows I tried ! There was never no happiness 
between us at last, I talked so. But I don't believe he 
could help himself he's not made like other folks, 
is n't Jim ' 

Her features became convulsed again with the 
struggle for speech. Marcella reached out for the toil- 
disfigured hand that was fingering and clutching at 
the edge of the settle, and held it close. Gradually she 
made out that although Hurd had not been able of 
course to conceal his night absences from his wife, 
he had kept his connexion with the Oxford gang 
absolutely dark from her, till, in his wild exultation 
over Westall's discomfiture in the Tudley End raid, he 
had said things in his restless snatches of sleep which 
had enabled her to get the whole truth out of him by 
degrees. Her reproaches, her fears, had merely angered 
and estranged him; her nature had had somehow to 
[ 393 ] 


accommodate itself to his, lest affection should lose its 
miserable all. 

As to this last fatal attack on the Maxwell coverts, 
it was clear to Marcella, as she questioned and listened, 
that the wife had long foreseen it, and that she now 
knew much more about it than suddenly she would 
allow herself to say. For in the midst of her out- 
pourings she drew herself together, tried to collect 
and calm herself, looked at Marcella with an agonised, 
suspicious eye, and fell silent. 

' I don't know nothing about it, Miss/ she stubbornly 
declared at last, with an inconsequent absurdity which 
smote Marcella's pity afresh. 'How am I to know? 
There was seven o' them Oxford fellows at Tudley End 
that I know. Who's to say as Jim was with 'em at 
all last night? Who's to say as it was n't them as ' 

She stopped, shivering. Marcella held her reluctant 

'You don't know/ she said, quietly, 'that I saw 
your husband in here for a minute before I came in to 
you, and that he told me, as he had already told 
Jenkins, that it was in a struggle with him that 
Westall was shot, but that he had fired in self-defence 
because Westall was attacking him. You don't know, 
too, that Charlie Dynes is alive, and says he saw 

'Charlie Dynes!' Mrs. Kurd gave a shriek, and then 
fell to weeping and trembling again, so that Marcella 
had need of patience. 

'If you can't help me more/ she said at last in 
despair, 'I don't know what we shall do. Listen to 
me. Your husband will be charged with Westall's 
[ 394 ] 


murder. That I am sure of. He says it was not murder 
that it happened in a fight. I believe it. I want to 
get a lawyer to prove it. I am your friend you 
know I am. But if you are not going to help me by 
telling me what you know of last night I may as well 
go home and get your sister-in-law to look after you 
and the children/ 

She rose as she spoke. Mrs. Kurd clutched at her. 

'Oh, my God!' she said, looking straight before her 
vacantly at the children, who at once began to cry 
again. 'Oh, my God! Look here, Miss' --her voice 
dropped, her swollen eyes fixed themselves on Marcella 
- the words came out in a low, hurried stream ' it 
was just after four o'clock I heard that door turn; I 
got up in my night-gown and ran down, and there was 
Jim. "Put that light out," he says to me, sharp like. 
"Oh, Jim," says I, "wherever have you been? You'll 
be the death o' me and them poor children !" "You go 
to bed,"says he to me, "and I'll come presently." But 
I could see him, 'cos of the moon, almost as plain as 
day, an I could n't take my eyes off him. And he 
went about the kitchen so strange like, puttin down 
his hat and takin it up again, an I saw he had n't got 
his gun. So I went up and caught holt on him. An 
he gave me a push back. "Can't you let me alone?" 
he says; "you'll know soon enough." An then I looked 
at my sleeve where I 'd touched him oh, my God ! 
my God!' 

Marcella, white to the lips and shuddering too, held 

her tight. She had the seeing faculty which goes with 

such quick, nervous natures, and she saw the scene as 

though she had been there the moonlit cottage, 

[ 395 ] 


the miserable husband and wife, the life-blood on the 
woman's sleeve. 

Mrs. Kurd went on in a torrent of half-finished 
sentences and fragments of remembered talk. She 
told her husband's story of the encounter with the 
keepers as he had told it to her, of course with addi- 
tions and modifications already struck out by the 
agony of inventive pain; she described how she had 
made him take his blood-stained clothes and hide them 
in a hole in the roof ; then how she had urged him to 
strike across country at once and get a few hours' start 
before the ghastly business was known. But the more 
he talked to her the more confident he became of his 
own story, and the more determined to stay and brave 
it out. Besides, he was shrewd enough to see that 
escape for a man of his deformity was impossible, and 
he tried to make her understand it so. But she was 
mad and blind with fear, and at last, just as the light 
was coming in, he told her roughly, to end their long 
wrestle, that he should go to bed and get some sleep. 
She would make a fool of him, and he should want all 
his wits. She followed him up the steep ladder to their 
room, weeping. And there was little Willie sitting up 
in bed, choking with the phlegm in his throat, and 
half -dead of fright because of the voices below. 

'And when Hurd see him, he went and cuddled him 
up, and rubbed his legs and feet to warm them, an 
I could hear him groanin. And I says to him, "Jim, 
if you won't go for my sake, will you go for the boy's? " 
For you see, Miss, there was a bit of money in the 
house, an I thought he'd hide himself by day and 
walk by night, and so get to Liverpool perhaps, and 
[ 396 ] 


off to the States. An it seemed as though my head 
would burst with listening for people comin, and him 
taken up there like a rat in a trap, an no way of 
provin the truth, and everybody agen him, because 
of the things he'd said. And he burst out a-cryin, an 
Willie cried. An I came an entreated of him. An 
he kissed me; an at last he said he'd go. An I made 
haste, the light was getting so terrible strong; an 
just as he'd got to the foot of the stairs, an I was 
holding little Willie in my arms an saying good-bye 
to him ' 

She let her head sink against the settle. There was 
no more to say, and Marcella asked no more questions 
-she sat thinking. Willie stood, a wasted, worn 
figure, by his mother, stroking her face; his hoarse 
breathing was for the time the only sound in the 

Then Marcella heard a loud knock at the door. She 
got up and looked through the casement window. The 
crowd had mostly dispersed, but a few people stood 
about on the green, and a policeman was stationea 
outside the cottage. On the steps stood Aldous Rae- 
burn, his horse held behind him by a boy. 

She went and opened the door. 

'I will come,' she said at once. 'There I see 
Mrs. Mullins crossing the common. Now I can leave 

Aldous, taking off his hat, closed the door behind 
him, and stood with his hand on Marcella's arm, look- 
ing at the huddled woman on the settle, at the pale 
children. There was a solemnity in his expression, a 
mixture of judgement and pity which showed that the 
[ 397 ] 


emotion of other scenes also scenes through which 
he had just passed was entering into it. 

'Poor unhappy souls/ he said, slowly, under his 
breath. 'You say that you have got some one to see 
after her. She looks as though it might kill her, too/ 

Marcella nodded. Now that her task, for the mo- 
ment, was nearly over, she could hardly restrain her- 
self nervously or keep herself from crying. Aldous 
observed her with disquiet as she put on her hat. 
His heart was deeply stirred. She had chosen more 
nobly for herself than he would have chosen for her, 
in thus daring an awful experience for the sake of 
mercy. His moral sense, exalted and awed by the 
sight of death, approved, worshipped her. His man's 
impatience pined to get her away, to cherish and 
comfort her. Why, she could hardly have slept three 
hours since they parted on the steps of the Court, 
amidst the crowd of carriages ! 

Mrs. Mullins came in still scared and weeping, and 
dropping frightened curtseys to 'Muster Raeburn.' 
Marcella spoke to her a little in a whisper, gave some 
counsels which filled Aldous with admiration for the 
girl's practical sense and thoughtfulness, and promised 
to come again later. Mrs. Kurd neither moved nor 
opened her eyes. 

'Can you walk?' said Aldous, bending over her, as 
they stood outside the cottage. 'I can see that you 
are worn out. Could you sit my horse if I led him?' 

'No, let us walk.' 

They went on together, followed by the eyes of the 
village, the boy leading the horse some distance 

[ 398 ] 


'Where have you been?' said Marcella, when they 
had passed the village. ' Oh, please don't think of my 
being tired ! I had so much rather know it all. I must 
know it all.' 

She was deathly pale, but her black eyes flashed 
impatience and excitement. She even drew her hand 
out of the arm where Aldous was tenderly holding it, 
and walked on erect by herself. 

'I have been with poor Dynes/ said Aldous, sadly; 
'we had to take his deposition. He died while I was 

' He died?' 

'Yes. The fiends who killed him had left small 
doubt of that. But he lived long enough, thank God, 
to give the information which will, I think, bring them 
to justice!' 

The tone of the magistrate and the magnate goaded 
Marcella's quivering nerves. 

'What is justice?' she cried; 'the system that 
wastes human lives in protecting your tame pheas- 

A cloud came over the stern clearness of his look. 
He gave a bitter sigh the sigh of the man to whom 
his own position in life had been, as it were, one long 

'You may well ask that!' he said. 'You cannot 
imagine that I did not ask it of myself a hundred times 
as I stood by that poor fellow's bedside.' 

They walked on in silence. She was hardly ap- 
peased. There was a deep, inner excitement in her 
urging her towards difference, towards attack. At 
last he resumed : 

[ 399 ] 


'But whatever the merits of our present game sys- 
tem may be, the present case is surely clear horribly 
clear. Six men, with at least three guns among them, 
probably more, go out on a pheasant-stealing expedi- 
tion. They come across two keepers, one a lad of 
seventeen, who have nothing but a light stick apiece. 
The boy is beaten to death, the keeper shot dead at 
the first brush by a man who has been his lifelong 
enemy, and threatened several times in public to 'do 
for him/ If that is not brutal and deliberate murder, 
it is difficult to say what is!' 

Marcella stood still in the misty road trying to 
command herself. 

'It was not deliberate/ she said at last, with dif- 
ficulty; 'not in Kurd's case. I have heard it all from 
his own mouth. It was a struggle he might have 
been killed instead of Westall Westall attacked, 
Kurd defended himself/ 

Aldous shook his head. 

'Of course Hurd would tell you so/ he said, sadly, 
'and his poor wife. He is not a bad or vicious fellow, 
like the rest of the rascally pack. Probably when he 
came to himself, after the moment of rage, he could 
not simply believe what he had done. But that makes 
no difference. It was murder; no judge or jury could 
possibly take any other view. Dynes 's evidence is 
clear, and the proof of motive is overwhelming/ 

Then, as he saw her pallor and trembling, he broke 
off in deep distress. 'My dear one, if I could but have 
kept you out of this!' 

They were alone in the misty road. The boy with 
the horse was out of sight. He would fain have put his 
[ 400 ] 


arm round her, have consoled and supported her. 
But she would not let him. 

'Please understand/ she said in a sort of gasp, as 
she drew herself away, 'that I do not believe Kurd is 
guilty that I shall do my very utmost to defend 
him. He is to me the victim of unjust, abominable 
laws. If you will not help me to protect him then 
I must look to some one else/ 

Aldous felt a sudden stab of suspicion presenti- 

'Of course he will be well defended; he will have 
every chance ; that you may be sure of/ he said slowly. 

Marcella controlled herself, and they walked on. 
As they entered the drive of Mellor, Aldous thought 
passionately of those divine moments in his sitting- 
room, hardly yet nine hours old. And now now! 
she walked beside him as an enemy. 

The sound of a step on the gravel in front of them 
made them look up. Past, present, and future met 
in the girl's bewildered and stormy sense as she re- 
cognised Wharton. 


JL HE first sitting of the Birmingham Labour Congress 
was just over, and the streets about the hall in which 
it had been held were beginning to fill with the issuing 
delegates. Rain was pouring down and umbrellas 
were plentiful. 

Harry Wharton, accompanied by a group of men, 
left the main entrance of the hall, releasing him- 
self with difficulty from the friendly crowd about the 
doors, and crossed the street to his hotel. 

'Well, I'm glad you think I did decently/ he said, 
as they mounted the hotel stairs. 'What a beastly 
day, and how stuffy that hall was ! Come in and have 
something to drink/ 

He threw open the door of his sitting-room as he 
spoke. The four men with him followed him in. 

'I must go back to the hall to see two or three men 
before everybody disperses/ said the one in front. 
'No refreshment for me, thank you, Mr. Wharton. 
But I want to ask a question what arrange- 
ments have you made for the reporting of your 

The man who spoke was thin and dark, with a 
modest, kindly eye. He wore a black frock-coat, and 
had the air of a minister. 

'Oh, thank you, Bennett, it's all right. The Post, 
the Chronicle, and the Northern Guardian will have 
full copies. I sent them off before the meeting. And 
[ 402 ] 


my own paper, of course. As to the rest, they may 
report it as they like. I don't care/ 

'They'll all have it/ said another man, bluntly. 
'It's the best speech you've ever made the best 
president's speech we've had yet, I say don't you 
think so?' 

The speaker, a man called Casey, turned to the two 
men behind him. Both nodded. 

'Hallin's speech last year was first-rate/ he con- 
tinued, 'but somehow Hallin damps you down, at 
least he did me last year ; what you want just now is 
fight and, my word ! Mr. Wharton let 'em have it !' 

And standing with his hands on his sides, he glanced 
round from one to another. His own face was flushed, 
partly from the effects of a crowded hall and bad air, 
but mostly with excitement. All the men present 
indeed though it was less evident in Bennett and 
Wharton than in the rest had the bright nervous 
look which belongs to leaders keenly conscious of 
standing well with the led, and of having just emerged 
successfully from an agitating ordeal. As they stood 
together they went over the speech to which they had 
been listening, and the scene which had followed it, 
in a running stream of talk, laughter, and gossip. 
Wharton took little part, except to make a joke oc- 
casionally at his own expense, but the pleasure on his 
smiling lip, and in his roving, contented eye was not 
to be mistaken. The speech he had just delivered had 
been first thought out as he paced the moonlit library 
and corridor at Mellor. After Marcella had left him, 
and he was once more in his own room, he had had the 
extraordinary self-control to write it out, and make 
[ 403 ] 


two or three machine-copies of it for the press. 
Neither its range nor its logical order had suffered 
for that intervening experience. The programme of 
labour for the next five years had never been better 
presented, more boldly planned, more eloquently 
justified. Hallin's presidential speech of the year 
before, as Casey said, rang flat in the memory when 
compared with it. Wharton knew that he had made 
a mark, and knew also that his speech had given him 
the whip-hand of some fellows who would otherwise 
have stood in his way. 

Casey was the first man to cease talking about the 
speech. He had already betrayed himself about it 
more than he meant. He belonged to the New Union- 
ism, and affected a costume in character fustian 
trousers, flannel shirt, a full red tie and workman's 
coat, all well calculated to set off a fine lion-like head 
and broad shoulders. He had begun life as a brick- 
layer's labourer, and was now the secretary of a 
recently formed Union. His influence had been con- 
siderable, but was said to be already on the wane; 
though it was thought likely that he would win a seat 
in the coming Parliament. 

The other two men were Molloy, secretary to the 
congress, short, smooth-faced, and wiry, a man whose 
pleasant eye and manner were often misleading, since 
he was in truth one of the hottest fighting men of a 
fighting movement; and Wilkins, a friend of Casey's 
ex-iron worker, Union official, and Labour candi- 
date for a Yorkshire division an uneducated, 
passionate fellow, speaking with a broad Yorkshire 
accent, a bad man of affairs, but honest, and endowed 
[ 404 ] 


with the influence which comes of sincerity, together 
with a gift for speaking and superhuman powers of 
physical endurance. 

'Well, I'm glad it's over/ said Wharton, throwing 
himself into a chair with a long breath, and at the 
same time stretching out his hand to ring the bell. 
'Casey, some whisky? No? Nor you, Wilkins? nor 
Molloy? As for you, Bennett, I know it's no good 
asking you. By George ! our grandfathers would have 
thought us a poor lot ! Well, some coffee at any rate 
you must all of you have before you go back. Waiter ! 
coffee. By the way, I have been seeing something of 
Hallin, Bennett, down in the country/ 

He took out his cigarette-case as he spoke, and 
offered it to the others. All refused except Molloy. 
Casey took his half -smoked pipe out of his pocket and 
lit up. He was not a teetotaler as the others were, but 
he would have scorned to drink his whisky-and-water 
at the expense of a 'gentleman' like Wharton, or to 
smoke the 'gentleman's' cigarettes. His class pride 
was irritably strong. Molloy, who was by nature any- 
body's equal, took the cigarette with an easy good 
manners, which made Casey look at him askance. 

Mr. Bennett drew his chair close to Wharton 's. The 
mention of Hallin had roused a look of anxiety in his 
quick dark eyes. 

'How is he, Mr. Wharton? The last letter I had 
from him he made light of his health. But you know 
he only just avoided a breakdown in that strike busi- 
ness. We only pulled him through by the skin of his 
teeth Mr. Raeburn and I.' 

'Oh, he's no constitution; never had, I suppose. 
[ 405 ] 


But he seemed much as usual. He's staying with 
Raeburn, you know, and I've been staying with the 
father of the young lady whom Raeburn's going to 

'Ah ! I've heard of that,' said Bennett, with a look 
of interest. 'Well, Mr. Raeburn is n't on our side, but 
for judgement and fair dealing there are very few men 
of his class and circumstances I would trust as I would 
him. The lady should be happy.' 

'Of course,' said Wharton, dryly. 'However, neither 
she nor Raeburn is very happy just at this moment. 
A horrible affair happened down there last night. 
One of Lord Maxwell's gamekeepers and a 'helper/ 
a lad of seventeen, were killed last night in a fight with 
poachers. I only just heard the outlines of it before 
I came away, but I got a telegram just before going 
into congress, asking me to defend the man charged 
with the murder.' 

A quick expression of repulsion and disgust crossed 
Bennett's face. 

'There have been a whole crop of such cases lately,' 
he said. 'How shall we ever escape from the curse of 
this game system?' 

'We shan't escape it,' said Wharton, quietly, knock- 
ing the end off his cigarette, 'not in your lifetime or 
mine. When we get more Radicals on the bench we 
shall lighten the sentences ; but that will only exasper- 
ate the sporting class into finding new ways of protect- 
ing themselves. Oh! the man will be hung that's 
quite clear to me. But it will be a good case from 
the public point of view will work up well - 

He ran his hands through his curls, considering. 
[ 406 ] 


'Will work up admirably/ he added in a lower tone 
of voice, as though to himself, his eyes keen and 
brilliant as ever, in spite of the marks of sleeplessness 
and fatigue visible in the rest of the face, though only 
visible there since he had allowed himself the repose 
of his cigarette and armchair. 

'Are yo comin to dine at the Peterloo to-night, 
Mr. Wharton?' said Wilkins, as Wharton handed him 
a cup of coffee ; 'but of coorse you are part of yower 
duties, I suppose?' 

While Molloy and Casey were deep in animated 
discussion of the great meeting of the afternoon he 
had been sitting silent against the edge of the table 
a short-bearded, sombre figure, ready at any moment 
to make a grievance, to suspect a slight. 

'I'm afraid I can't/ said Wharton, bending forward 
and speaking in a tone of concern ; 'that was just what 
I was going to ask you all if you would make my 
excuses to-night? I have been explaining to Bennett. 
I have an important piece of business in the country - 
a labourer has been getting into trouble for shooting a 
keeper; they have asked me to defend him. The 
assizes come on in little more than a fortnight, worse 
luck! so that the time is short ' 

And he went on to explain that, by taking an 
evening train back to Widrington, he could get the 
following (Saturday) morning with the solicitor in 
charge of the case, and be back in Birmingham, 
thanks to the convenience of a new line lately opened, 
in time for the second meeting of the congress, which 
was fixed for the early afternoon. 

He spoke with great cordiality and persuasiveness. 
[ 407 ] 


Among the men who surrounded him, his youth, good 
looks, and easy breeding shone out conspicuous. In 
the opinion of Wilkins, indeed, who followed his every 
word and gesture, he was far too well dressed and too 
well educated. A day would soon come when the 
Labour Movement would be able to show these young 
aristocrats the door. Not yet, however. 

'Well, I thowt you would n't dine with us/ he said, 
turning away with a blunt laugh. 

Bennett's mild eyes showed annoyance. 'Mr. 
Wharton has explained himself very fully, I think/ 
he said, turning to the others. 'We shall miss him at 
dinner but this matter seems to be one of life and 
death. And we must n't forget anyway that Mr. 
Wharton is fulfilling this engagement at great incon- 
venience to himself. We none of us knew when we 
elected him last year that he would have to be fighting 
his election at the same time. Next Saturday, isn't it ? ' 

Bennett rose as he spoke and carefully buttoned his 
coat. It was curious to contrast his position among his 
fellows one of marked ascendency and authority - 
with his small, insignificant physique. He had a gentle, 
deprecating eye, and the heart of a poet. He played 
the flute and possessed the gift of repeating verse - 
especially Ebenezer Eliot's Corn-Law Rhymes so 
as to stir a great audience to enthusiasm or tears. The 
Wesleyan community of his native Cheshire village 
owned no more successful class-leader, and no humbler 
Christian. At the same time he could hold a large 
business meeting sternly in check, was the secretary 
of one of the largest and oldest Unions in the country, 
had been in Parliament for years, and was generally 
[ 408 ] 


looked upon even by the men who hated his 'moderate* 
policy, as a power not to be ignored. 

'Next Saturday. Yes!' said Wharton, nodding in 
answer to his inquiry. 

'Well, are you going to do it?' said Casey, looking 
round at him. 

'Oh yes!' said Wharton, cheerfully; 'oh yes! we 
shall do it. We shall settle old Dodgson, I think/ 

'Are the Raeburns as strong as they were?' asked 
Molloy, who knew Brookshire. 

'What landlord is? Since '84 the ground is mined 
for them all good and bad and they know it.' 

'The mine takes a long time blowing up too long 
for my patience/ said Wilkins, gruffly. 'How the 
country can go on year after year paying its tribute to 
these, plunderers passes my comprehension. But you 
may attack them as you please. You will never get 
any forrarder so long as Parliament and the Cabinet 
is made up of them and their hangers-on/ 

Wharton looked at him brightly, but silently, mak- 
ing a little assenting inclination of the head. He was 
not surprised that anything should pass Wilkins's 
comprehension, and he was determined to give him 
no opening for holding forth. 

'Well, we'll let you alone/ said Bennett. 'You'll 
have very little time to get off in. We'll make your 
excuses, Mr. Wharton. You may be sure everybody 
is so pleased with your speech we shall find them all 
in a good temper. It was grand ! let me congratu- 
late you again. Good-night I hope you'll get your 
poacher off!' 

The others followed suit, and they all took leave in 
[ 409 ] 


character : Molloy, with an eager business reference 
to the order of the day for Saturday, ' Give me your 
address at Widrington; I'll post you everything to- 
night, so that you may have it all under your eye ' ; - 
Casey, with the offhand patronage of the man who 
would not for the world have his benevolence mis- 
taken for servility ; and Wilkins with as gruff a nod 
and as limp a shake of the hand as possible. It might 
perhaps have been read in the manner of the last two, 
that although this young man had just made a most 
remarkable impression, and was clearly destined to go 
far, they were determined not to yield themselves to 
him a moment before they must. In truth, both were 
already jealous of him; whereas Molloy, absorbed in 
the business of the congress, cared for nothing except 
to know whether in the next two days' debates 
Wharton would show himself as good a chairman as 
he was an orator; and Bennett, while saying no word 
that he did not mean, was fully conscious of an inner 
judgement, which pronounced five minutes of Edward 
Hallin's company to be worth more to him than any- 
thing which this brilliant young fellow could do or 

Wharton saw them out, then came back and threw 
himself again into his chair by the window. The Vene- 
tian blinds were not closed, and he looked out on a 
wide and handsome street of tall red-brick houses and 
shops, crowded with people and carriages, and lit with 
a lavishness of gas which overcame even the February 
dark and damp. But he noticed nothing, and even the 
sensation of his triumph was passing off. He was once 
more in the Mellor drive; Aldous Raeburn and Mar- 
[ 410 ] 


cella stood in front of him; the thrill of the moment 
beat once more in his pulse. 

He buried his head in his hands and thought. The 
news of the murder had reached him from Mr. Boyce. 
The master of Mellor had heard the news from William, 
the man-servant, at half -past seven, and had instantly 
knocked up his guest, by way of sharing the excite- 
ment with which his own feeble frame was throbbing. 

' By Gad ! I never heard such an atrocious business/ 
said the invalid, his thin hand shaking against his 
dressing-gown. 'That's what your Radical notions 
bring us to ! We shall have them plundering and burn- 
ing the country-houses next/ 

' I don't think my Radical notions have much to do 
with it/ said Wharton, composedly. 

But there was a red spot in his cheeks which belied 
his manner. So when he they saw Hurd cross 
the avenue he was on his way to this deed of blood. 
The shot that he, Wharton, had heard had been the 
shot which slew Westall? Probably. Well, what was 
the bearing of it? Could she keep her own counsel or 
would they find themselves in the witness-box? The 
idea quickened his pulse amazingly. 

'Any clue? Any arrest?' he asked of his host. 

'Why, I told you/ said Boyce, testily, though as a 
matter of fact he had said nothing. 'They have got 
that man Hurd. The ruffian has been a marked man 
by the keepers and police, they tell me, for the last 
year or more. And there's my daughter has been 
pampering him and his wife all the time, and preach- 
ing to me about them ! She got Raeburn even to take 
him on at the Court. I trust it will be a lesson to her/ 


Wharton drew a breath of relief. So the man was 
in custody, and there was other evidence. Good! 
There was no saying what a woman's conscience 
might be capable of, even against her friends and 

When Mr. Boyce at last left him free to dress and 
make his preparations for the early train, by which 
the night before, after the ladies' departure for the 
ball, he had suddenly made up his mind to leave 
Mellor, it was some time before Wharton could rouse 
himself to action. The situation absorbed him. Miss 
Boyce's friend was now in imminent danger of his 
neck, and Miss Boyce's thoughts must be of necessity 
concentrated upon his plight and that of his family. 
He foresaw the passion, the saeva indignatio, that she 
must ultimately throw the general situation being 
what it was into the struggle for Hurd's life. What- 
ever the evidence might be, he would be to her either 
victim or champion and Westall, of course, merely 
the Holofernes of the piece. 

How would Raeburn take it? Ah, well! the situa- 
tion must develop. It occurred to him, however, that 
he would catch an earlier train to Widrington than 
the one he had fixed on, and have half an hour's talk 
with a solicitor who was a good friend of his before 
going on to Birmingham. Accordingly, he rang for 
William who came, all staring and dishevelled, 
fresh from the agitation of the servants' hall gave 
orders for his luggage to be sent after him, got as 
much fresh information as he could from the excited 
lad, plunged into his bath, and finally emerged, fresh 
and vigorous in every nerve, showing no trace what- 
[ 412 ] 


ever of the fact that two hours of broken sleep had 
been his sole portion for a night in which he had 
gone through emotions and sustained a travail of 
brain, either of which would have left their mark on 
most men. 

Then the meeting in the drive! How plainly he 
saw them both Raeburn grave and pale, Marcella 
in her dark serge skirt and cap, with an eye all passion 
and a cheek white as her hand. 

'A tragic splendour enwrapped her! a fierce he- 
roic air. She was the embodiment of the moment 
of the melancholy morning with its rain and leafless 
woods of the human anguish throbbing in the little 
village. And I, who had seen her last in her festal 
dress, who had held her warm perfumed youth in my 
arms, who had watched in her white breast the heav- 
ing of the heart that I / had troubled ! how did 
I find it possible to stand and face her? But I did. 
It rushed through me at once how I would make her 
forgive me how I would regain possession of her. 
I had thought the play was closed: it was suddenly 
plain to me that the second act was but just beginning. 
She and Raeburn had already come to words I 
knew it directly I saw them. This business will divide 
them more and more. His conscience will come in 
and a Raeburn 's conscience is the Devil ! 

'By now he hates me; every word I speak to him 

still more every word to her galls him. But he 
controlled himself when I made him tell me the story 

I had no reason to complain though every now 
and then I could see him wince under the knowledge 

[ 413 ] 


I must needs show of the persons and places concerned 
a knowledge I could only have got from her. And 
she stood by meanwhile like a statue. Not a word, 
not a look, so far, though she had been forced to 
touch my hand. But my instinct saved me. I roused 
her I played upon her ! I took the line that I was 
morally certain she had been taking in their tete-h-tete. 
Why not a scuffle? a general scrimmage? in 
which it was matter of accident who fell? The man 
surely was inoffensive and gentle, incapable -of de- 
liberate murder. And as to the evidence of hatred, 
it told both ways. He stiffened and was silent. What 
a fine brow he has a look sometimes, when he is 
moved, of antique power and probity ! But she she 
trembled animation came back. She would almost 
have spoken to me but I did well not to prolong 
it to hurry on/ 

Then he took the telegram out of his pocket which 
had been put into his hands as he reached the hotel, 
his mouth quivering again with the exultation which 
he had felt when he had received it. It recalled to 
his ranging memory all the details of his hurried inter- 
view with the little Widrington solicitor, who had 
already scented a job in the matter of Kurd's defence. 
This man needy, shrewd, and well equipped with 
local knowledge had done work for Wharton and 
the party, and asked nothing better than to stand 
well with the future member for the division. 'There 
is a lady/ Wharton had said, 'the daughter of Mr. 
Boyce of Mellor, who is already very much interested 
in this fellow and his family. She takes this business 
greatly to heart. I have seen her this morning, but 
[ 414 ] 


had no time to discuss the matter with her. She will, 
I have little doubt, try to help the relations in the 
arrangements for the defence. Go to her this morning 
- tell her that the case has my sympathy that, 
as she knows, I am a barrister, and, if she wishes it, 
I will defend Hurd. I shall be hard put to it to get 
up the case with the election coming on, but I will 
do it for the sake of the public interest involved. 
You understand? Her father is a Tory and she is 
just about to marry Mr. Raeburn. Her position, there- 
fore, is difficult. Nevertheless, she will feel strongly 
she does feel strongly about this case, and about the 
whole game system and I feel moved to support 
her. She will take her own line, whatever happens. 
See her see the wife, too, who is entirely under 
Miss Boyce's influence and wire to me at my hotel 
at Birmingham. If they wish to make other arrange- 
ments, well and good. I shall have all the more time 
to give to the election/ 

Leaving this commission behind him, he had 
started on his journey. At the end of it a telegram 
had been handed to him on the stairs of his hotel : 

'Have seen the lady, also Mrs. Hurd. You are 
urgently asked to undertake defence/ 

He spread it out before him now, and pondered it. 
The bit of flimsy paper contained for him the promise 
of all he most coveted, influence, emotion, excite- 
ment. ' She will have returns upon herself, ' he thought, 
smiling, 'when I see her again. She will be dignified, 
resentful ; she will suspect everything I say or do 
still more, she will suspect herself. No matter! The 
situation is in my hands. Whether I succeed or fail, 
[ 415 ] 


she will be forced to work with me, to consult with me 
she will owe me gratitude. What made her con- 
sent? she must have felt it in some sort a humilia- 
tion. Is it that Raeburn has been driving her to strong 
measures that she wants, woman-like, to win, and 
thought me after all her best chance, and put her 
pride in her pocket? Or is it? ah! one should put 
that out of one's head. It's like wine it unsteadies 
one. And for a thing like this one must go into train- 
ing. Shall I write to her there is just time now, 
before I start take the lofty tone, the equal mascu- 
line tone, which I have noticed she likes? ask her 
pardon for an act of madness before we go together 
to the rescue of a life? It might do it might go 
down. But no, I think not ! Let the situation develop 
itself. Action and reaction the unexpected I 
commit myself to that. She marry Aldous Raeburn 
in a month? Well, she may certainly she may. 
But there is no need for me, I think, to take it greatly 
into account. .Curious! twenty-four hours ago I 
thought it all done with dead and done with. "So 
like Provvy," as Bentham used to say, when he heard 
of anything particularly unseemly in the way of 
natural catastrophe. Now to dine, and be off ! How 
little sleep can I do with in the next fortnight?' 

He rang, ordered his cab, and then went to the 
coffee-room for some hasty food. As he was passing 
one of the small tables with which the room was 
filled, a man who was dining there with a friend 
recognised him and gave him a cold nod. Wharton 
walked on to the further end of the room, and, while 
waiting for his meal, buried himself in the local even- 
[ 416 ] 


ing paper, which already contained a report of his 

'Did you see that man?' asked the stranger of his 

'The small young fellow with the curly hair?' 

'Small young fellow, indeed! He is the wiriest 
athlete I know extraordinary physical strength for 
his size and one of the cleverest rascals out as a 
politician. I am a neighbour of his in the country. 
His property joins mine. I knew his father a little, 
dried-up old chap of the old school very elegant 
manners and very obstinate worried to death by 
his wife oh, my goodness ! such a woman !' 

'What's the name?' said the friend, interrupting. 

'Wharton H. S. Wharton. His mother was a 
daughter of Lord Westgate, and her mother was an 
actress whom the old lord married in his dotage. 
Lady Mildred Wharton was like Garrick, only natural 
when she was acting, which she did on every possible 
occasion. A preposterous woman! Old Wharton 
ought to have beaten her for her handwriting, and 
murdered her for her gowns. Her signature took a 
sheet of note-paper, and as for her dress I never could 
get' out of her way. Whatever part of the room I 
happened to be in I always found my feet tangled in 
her skirts. Somehow, I never could understand how 
she was able to find so much stuff of one pattern, but 
it was only to make you notice her, like all the rest. 
Every bit of her was a pose, and the maternal pose 
was the worst of all.' 

'H. S. Wharton?' said the other. 'Why, that's the 
man who has been speaking here to-day. I've just 
[ 417 ] 


been reading the account of it in the Evening Star. A 
big meeting called by a joint committee of the lead- 
ing Birmingham trades to consider the Liberal elec- 
tion programme as it affects Labour that 's the man 

he 's been at it hammer and tongs red-hot all 
the usual devices for harrying the employer out of 
existence, with a few trifles graduated income-tax 
and land nationalisation thrown in. Oh ! that's the 
man, is it? they say he had a great reception 
spoke brilliantly and is certainly going to get into 
Parliament next week/ 

The speaker, who had the air of a shrewd and 
prosperous manufacturer, put up his eye-glass to look 
at this young Robespierre. His vis-d-vis a stout 
country gentleman who had been in the army and 
knocked about the world before coming into his estate 

shrugged his shoulders. 

'So I hear he dare n't show his nose as a candi- 
date in our part of the world, though of course he does 
us all. the harm he can. I remember a good story of his 
mother she quarrelled with her husband and all her 
relations, his and hers, and then she took to speaking 
in public, accompanied by her dear boy. On one occa- 
sion she was speaking at a market-town near us, and 
telling the farmers that as far as she was concerned 
she would like to see the big properties cut up to- 
morrow. The sooner her father's and husband's estates 
were made into small holdings stocked with public 
capital the better. After it was all over, a friend of 
mine, who was there, was coming home in a sort of 
omnibus that ran between the town and a neighbour- 
ing village. He found himself between two fat farmers, 

[ 418 ] 


and this was the conversation broad Lincolnshire, 
of course : " Did tha hear Laady Mildred Wharton say 
them things, Willum?" "Aye, a did." "What did 
tha think, Willum?" "What did tha think, George?" 
"Wai, aathowt Laady Mildred Wharton wor a graat 
f ule, Willum, if tha asks me. " " I '11 uphowd tha, George ! 
I '11 uphowd tha !" said the other, and then they talked 
no more for the rest of the journey/ 

The friend laughed. 

'So it was from the dear mamma that the young 
man got his opinions?' 

'Of course. She dragged him into every absurdity 
she could from the time he was fifteen. When the 
husband died she tried to get the servants to come in 
to meals, but the butler struck. So did Wharton him- 
self, who, for a Socialist, has always showed a very 
pretty turn for comfort. I am bound to say he was cut 
up when she died. It was the only time I ever felt like 
being civil to him in those months after she de- 
parted. I suppose she was devoted to him which 
after all is something/ 

'Good Heavens!' said the other, still lazily turning 
over the pages of the newspaper as they sat waiting 
for their second course, 'here is another poaching 
murder in Brookshire the third I have noticed 
within a month. On Lord Maxwell's property you 
know them?' 

'I know the old man a little fine old fellow! 
They '11 make him President of the Council, I suppose. 
He can't have much work left in him; but it is such 
a popular, respectable name. Ah ! I 'm sorry ; the sort 
of thing to distress him terribly.' 
[ 419 ] 


'I see the grandson is standing/ 

'Oh yes; will get in too. A queer sort of man 
great ability and high character. But you can't imag- 
ine him getting on in politics, unless it's by sheer 
weight of wealth and family influence. He'll find a 
scruple in every bush never stand the rough work 
of the House, or get on with the men. My goodness ! 
you have to pull with some queer customers nowadays. 
By the way, I hear he is making an unsatisfactory 
marriage a girl very handsome, but with no man- 
ners, and like nobody else the daughter, too, of an 
extremely shady father. It's surprising; you'd have 
thought a man like Aldous Raeburn would have 
looked for the pick of things.' 

'Perhaps it was she looked for the pick of things!' 
said the other, with a blunt laugh. 'Waiter, another 
bottle of champagne/ 


mARCELLAwas lying on the sofa in the Mellor drawing- 
room. The February evening had just been shut out, 
but she had told William not to bring the lamps till 
they were rung for. Even the firelight seemed more 
than she could bear. She was utterly exhausted both 
in body and mind; yet, as she lay there with shut 
eyes, and hands clasped under her cheek, a start went 
through her at every sound in the house, which showed 
that she was not resting, but listening. She had spent 
the morning in the Hurds' cottage, sitting by Mrs. 
Kurd and nursing the little boy. Minta Hurd, always 
delicate and consumptive, was now generally too ill 
from shock and misery to be anywhere but in her bed, 
and Willie was growing steadily weaker, though the 
child's spirit was such that he would insist on dressing, 
on hearing and knowing everything about his father, 
and on moving about the house as usual. Yet every 
movement of his wasted bones cost him the effort of 
a hero, and the dumb signs in him of longing for his 
father increased the general impression as of some 
patient creature driven by Nature to monstrous and 
disproportionate extremity. 

The plight of this handful of human beings worked 
in Marcella like some fevering torture. She was wholly 
out of gear physically and morally. Another prac- 
tically sleepless night, peopled with images of horror, 
had decreased her stock of sane self-control, already 
[ 421 ] 


lessened by long conflict of feeling and the pressure 
of self -contempt. Now, as she lay listening for Aldous 
Raeburn's ring and step, she hardly knew whether 
to be angry with him for coming so late, or miserable 
that he should come at all. That there was a long 
score to settle between herself and him she knew well. 
Shame for an experience which seemed to her maiden 
sense, indelible both a weakness and a treachery - 
lay like a dull weight on heart and conscience. But 
she would not realise it, she would not act upon it. 
She shook the moral debate from her impatiently. 
Aldous should have his due all in good time should 
have ample opportunity of deciding whether he would, 
after all, marry such a girl as she. Meanwhile his 
attitude with regard to the murder exasperated her. 
Yet, in some strange way it relieved her to be angry 
and sore with him to have a grievance she could 
avow, and on which she made it a merit to dwell. 
His gentle, yet firm difference of opinion with her on 
the subject struck her as something new in him. It 
gave her a kind of fierce pleasure to fight it. He 
seemed somehow to be providing her with excuses - 
to be coming down to her level to be equalling 
wrong with wrong. 

The door-handle turned. At last! She sprang up. 
But it was only William coming in with the evening 
post. Mrs. Boyce followed him. She took a quiet 
look at her daughter, and asked if her headache was 
better, and then sat down near her to some needle- 
work. During these two days she had been unusually 
kind to Marcella. She had none of the little feminine 
arts of consolation. She was incapable of fussing, and 


she never caressed. But from the moment that Mar- 
cella had come home from the village that morning, 
a pale, hollow-eyed wreck, the mother had asserted 
her authority. She would not hear of the girl's cross- 
ing the threshold again; she had put her on the sofa 
and dosed her with sal-volatile. And Marcella was 
too exhausted to rebel. She had only stipulated that 
a note should be sent to Aldous, asking him to come 
on to Mellor with the news as soon as the verdict of 
the coroner's jury should be given. The jury had been 
sitting all day, and the verdict was expected in the 

Marcella turned over her letters till she came to 
one from a London firm which contained a number 
of cloth patterns. As she touched it she threw it 
aside with a sudden gesture of impatience, and sat 

'Mamma! I have something to say to you/ 

'Yes, my dear/ 

'Mamma, the wedding must be put off! it must! 
for some weeks. I have been thinking about it 
while I have been lying here. How can I? you can 
see for yourself. That miserable woman depends on 
me altogether. How can I spend my time on clothing 
and dressmakers? I feel as if I could think of nothing 
else nothing else in the world but her and her 
children.' She spoke with difficulty, her voice high 
and strained. 'The assizes may be held that very 
week who knows? the very day we are married/ 

She stopped, looking at her mother almost threaten- 
ingly. Mrs. Boyce showed no sign of surprise. She 
put her work down. 

[ 423 ] 


'I had imagined you might say something of the 
kind/ she said after a pause. 'I don't know that, 
from your point of view, it is unreasonable. But, of 
course, you must understand that very few people 
will see it from your point of view. Aldous Raeburn 
m ay you must know best. But his people certainly 
won't; and your father will think it - 

'Madness/ she was going to say, but with her usual 
instinct for the moderate fastidious word she cor- 
rected it to 'foolish/ 

Marcella's tired eyes were all wilfulness and defiance. 

'I can't help it. I could n't do it. I will tell Aldous 
at once. It must be put off for a month. And even 
that/ she added with a shudder, 'will be bad enough/ 

Mrs. Boyce. could not help an unperceived shrug of 
the shoulders, and a movement of pity towards the 
future husband. Then she said dryly, - 

'You must always consider whether it is just to 
Mr. Raeburn to let a matter of this kind interfere so 
considerably with his wishes and his plans. He must, 
I suppose, be in London for Parliament within six 

Marcella did not answer. She sat with her hands 
round her knees lost in perplexities. The wedding, as 
originally fixed, was now three weeks and three days 
off. After it, she and Aldous were to have spent a 
short fortnight's honeymoon at a famous house in the 
North, lent them for the occasion by a duke who was 
a cousin of Aldous's on the mother's side, and had 
more houses than he knew what to do with. Then 
they were to go immediately up to London for the 
opening of Parliament. The furnishing of the Mayfair 
[ 424 ] 


house was being pressed on. In her new-born impa- 
tience with such things, Marcella had hardly of late 
concerned herself with it at all, and Miss Raeburn, 
scandalised, yet not unwilling, had been doing the 
whole of it, subject to conscientious worryings of the 
bride, whenever she could be got hold of, on the sub- 
ject of papers and curtains. 

As they sat silent, the unspoken idea in the mother's 
mind was 'Eight weeks more will carry us past the 
execution/ Mrs. Boyce had already possessed herself 
very clearly of the facts of the case, and it was her 
perception that Marcella was throwing herself head- 
long into a hopeless struggle together with some- 
thing else a confession perhaps of a touch of great- 
ness in the girl's temper, passionate and violent as it 
was, that had led to this unwonted softness of manner, 
this absence of sarcasm. 

Very much the same thought only treated as a 
nameless horror not to be recognised or admitted 
was in Marcella's mind also, joined, however, with 
another, unsuspected even by Mrs. Boyce's acuteness. 
'Very likely when I tell him he will not want to 
marry me at all and of course I shall tell him/ 

But not yet certainly not yet. She had the in- 
stinctive sense that during the next few weeks she 
should want all her dignity with Aldous, that she could 
not afford to put herself at a disadvantage with him. 
To be troubled about her own sins at such a moment 
would be like the meanness of the lazy and canting 
Christian, who whines about saving his soul while he 
ought to be rather occupied with feeding the bodies of 
his wife and children. 

[ 425 ] 


A ring at the front door. Marcella rose, leaning one 
hand on the end of the sofa a long slim figure in her 
black dress haggard and pathetic. 

When Aldous entered, her face was one question. 
He went up to her and took her hand. 

'In the case of Westall the verdict is one of "Wilful 
Murder" against Hurd. In that of poor Charlie Dynes 
the court is adjourned. Enough evidence has been 
taken to justify burial. But there is news to-night 
that one of the Widrington gang has turned informer, 
and the police say they will have their hands on them 
all within the next two or three days/ 

Marcella withdrew herself from him and fell back 
into the corner of the sofa. Shading her eyes with 
her hand she tried to be very composed and business- 

'Was Hurd himself examined?' 

'Yes, under the new Act. He gave the account 
which he gave to you and to his wife. But the Court ' 

'Did riot believe it?' 

'No. The evidence of motive was too strong. It 
was clear from his own account that he was out for 
poaching purposes, that he was leading the Oxford 
gang, and that he had a gun while Westall was un- 
armed. He admitted too that Westall called on him 
to give up the bag of pheasants he held, and the gun. 
He refused. Then he says Westall came at him, and 
he fired. Dick Patton and one or two others gave 
evidence as to the language he has habitually used 
about Westall for months past/ 

'Cowards curs!' cried Marcella, clenching both 
her hands, a kind of sob in her throat. 
[ 426 ] 


Aldous, already white and careworn, showed, Mrs. 
Boyce thought, a ray of indignation for an instant. 
Then he resumed steadily 

'And Brown, our steward, gave evidence as to his 
employment since October. The coroner summed up 
carefully, and I think fairly, and the verdict was given 
about half -past six/ 

'They took him back to prison?' 

'Of course. He comes before the magistrates on 

'And you will be one!' 

The girl's tone was indescribable. 

Aldous started. Mrs. Boyce reddened with anger, 
and checking her instinct to intervene began to put 
away her working-materials that she might leave them 
together. While she was still busy Aldous said : 

' You forget ; no magistrate ever tries a case in which 
he is personally concerned. I shall take no part in the 
trial. My grandfather, of course, must prosecute/ 

'But it will be a bench of landlords/ cried Marcella; 
'of men with whom a poacher is already condemned/ 

'You are unjust to us, I think/ said Aldous, slowly, 
after a pause, during which Mrs. Boyce left the room 
'to some of us, at any rate. Besides, as of course 
you know, the case will be simply sent on for trial 
at the assizes. By the way' --his tone changed 
'I hear to-night that Harry Wharton undertakes the 

'Yes/ said Marcella, defiantly. 'Is there anything 
to say against it? You would n't wish Kurd not to be 
defended, I suppose?' 


[ 427 ] 


Even her bitter mood was pierced by the tone. She 
had never wounded him so deeply yet, and for a 
moment he felt the situation intolerable ; the surging 
grievance and reproach, with which his heart was 
really full, all but found vent in an outburst which 
would have wholly swept away his ordinary measure 
and self-control. But then, as he looked at her, it 
struck his lover's sense painfully how pale and miser- 
able she was. He could not scold ! But it came home 
to him strongly that for her own sake and his it would 
be better there should be explanations. After all, 
things had been going untowardly for many weeks. 
His nature moved slowly and with much self-doubt, 
but it was plain to him now that he must make a 

After his cry, her first instinct was to apologise. 
Then the words stuck in her throat. To her, as to 
him, they seemed to be close on a trial of strength. If 
she could not influence him in this matter so obvi- 
ous, as it seemed to her, and so near to her heart - 
what was to become of that lead of hers in their mar- 
ried life, on which she had been reckoning from the 
beginning? All that was worst in her and all that was 
best rose to the struggle. 

But, as he did not speak, she looked up at last. 

'I was waiting/ he said in a low voice. 

'What for?' 

'Waiting till you should tell me you did not mean 
what you said/ 

She saw that he was painfully moved ; she also saw 
that he was introducing something into their relation, 
an element of proud self-assertion, which she had 
[ 428 ] 


never felt in it before. Her own vanity instantly 

'I ought not to have said exactly what I did/ she 
said, almost stifled by her own excitement, and mak- 
ing great efforts not to play the mere wilful child; 
'that I admit. But it has been clear to me from the 
beginning that that' her words hurried, she took 
up a book and restlessly lifted it and let it fall 'you 
have never looked at this thing justly. You have 
looked at the crime as any one must who is a land- 
owner ; you have never allowed for the provocation ; 
you have not let yourself feel pity - 

He made an exclamation. 

'Do you know where I was before I went into the 

'No/ she said, defiantly, determined not to be im- 
pressed, feeling a childish irritation at the interruption. 

' I was with Mrs. Westall. Harden and I went in to 
see her. She is a hard, silent woman. She is clearly 
not popular in the village, and no one comes in to her. 
Her 7 --he hesitated 'her baby is expected before 
long. She is in such a state of shock and excitement 
that Clarke thinks it quite possible she may go out 
of her mind. I saw her sitting by the fire, quite silent, 
not crying, but with a wild eye that means mischief. 
We have sent in a nurse to help Mrs. Jellison watch 
her. She seems to care nothing about her boy. Every- 
thing that that woman most desired in life has been 
struck from her at a blow. Why? That a man who 
was in no stress of poverty, who had friends and 
employment, should indulge himself in acts which he 
knew to be against the law, and had promised you 
[ 429 ] 


and his wife to forego, and should at the same time 
satisfy a wild beast's hatred against the man, who was 
simply defending his master's property. Have you no 
pity for Mrs. Westall or her child?' 

He spoke as calmly as he could, making his appeal 
to reason and moral sense ; but, in reality, every word 
was charged with electric feeling. 

'I am sorry for her!' cried Marcella, passionately. 
'But, after all, how can one feel for the oppressor, or 
those connected with him, as one does for the victim?' 
He shook his head, protesting against the word, but 
she rushed on. 'You do know for I told you yes- 
terday how under the shelter of this hateful game 
system Westall made Kurd's life a burden to him 
when he was a young man how he began to bully 
him again this past year. We had the same sort of 
dispute the other day about that murder in Ireland. 
You were shocked that I would not condemn the 
Moonlighters who had shot their landlord from behind 
a hedge, as you did. You said the man had tried to 
do his duty, and that the murder was brutal and 
unprovoked. But I thought of the system of the 
memories in the minds of the murderers. There were 
excuses he suffered for his father I am not going 
to judge that as I judge other murders. So, when a 
czar of Russia is blown up, do you expect one to 
think only of his wife and children? No! I will think 
of the tyranny and the revolt ; I will pray, yes, pray 
that I might have courage to do as they did! You 
may think me wild and mad. I dare say. I am made 
so. I shall always feel so!' 

She flung out her words at him, every limb quiver- 
[ 430 ] 


ing under the emotion of them. His cool, penetrating 
eye, this manner she had never yet known in him, 
exasperated her. 

'Where was the tyranny in this case?' he asked 
her quietly. 'I agree with you that there are murders 
and murders. But I thought your point was that 
here was neither murder nor attack, but only an act 
of self-defence. That is Kurd's plea/ 

She hesitated and stumbled. 'I know/ she said, 
'I know. I believe it. But, even if the attack had 
been on Kurd's part, I shall still find excuses, because 
of the system, and because of Westell's hatefulness.' 

He shook his head again. 

'Because a man is harsh and masterful, and uses 
stinging language, is he to be shot down like a dog?' 

There was a silence. Marcella was lashing herself 
up by thoughts of the deformed man in his cell, look- 
ing forward after the wretched, unsatisfied life, which 
was all society had allowed him, to the violent death 
by which society would get rid of him of the wife 
yearning her heart away of the boy, whom other 
human beings, under the name of law, were about to 
separate from his father for ever. At last she broke 
out thickly and indistinctly : 

' The terrible thing is that I cannot count upon you 

that now I cannot make you feel as I do feel 

with me. And by and by, when I shall want your help 

desperately, when your help might be everything 

- I suppose it will be no good to ask it.' 

He started, and bending forward he possessed him- 
self of both her hands her hot, trembling hands 
and kissed them with a passionate tenderness. 
[ 431 ] 


'What help will you ask of me that I cannot give? 
That would be hard to bear!' 

Still held by him, she answered his question by 
another : 

'Give me your idea of what will happen. Tell me 
how you think it will end/ 

'I shall only distress you, dear/ he said, sadly. 

'No; tell me. You think him guilty? You believe 
he will be convicted? ' 

'Unless some wholly fresh evidence is forthcoming/ 
he said, reluctantly, 'I can see no other issue/ 

'Very well; then he will be sentenced to death. But, 
after sentence I know that man from Widring- 
ton, that solicitor, told me if if strong influence is 
brought to bear if anybody whose word counts - 
if Lord Maxwell and you, were to join the movement 
to save him There is sure to be a movement the 
Radicals will take it up. Will you do it will you 
promise me now for my sake?' 

He was silent. 

She looked at him, all her heart burning in her eyes, 
conscious of her woman's power too, and pressing it. 

'If that man is hung/ she said, pleadingly, 'it will 
leave a mark on my life nothing will ever smooth out. 
I shall feel myself somehow responsible. I shall say 
to myself, if I had not been thinking about my own 
selfish affairs about getting married about the 
straw-plaiting I might have seen what was going 
on. I might have saved these people, who have been 
my friends my real friends from this horror/ 

She drew her hands away and fell back on the sofa, 
pressing her handkerchief to her eyes. 'If you had 
[ 432 ] 


seen her this morning ! ' she said, in a strangled voice. 
'She was saying, "Oh, Miss, if they do find him guilty, 
they can't hang him not my poor deformed Jim, 
that never had a chance of being like the others. Oh, 
we'll beg so hard. I know there's many people will 
speak for him. He was mad, Miss, when he did it. 
He'd never been himself, not since last winter, when 
we all sat and starved, and he was- driven out of his 
senses by thinking of me and the children. You'll get 
Mr. Raeburn to speak won't you, Miss? and Lord 
Maxwell? It was their game. I know it was their 
game. But they'll forgive him. They're such great 
people, and so rich and we we've always had 
such a struggle. Oh, the bad times we've had, and no 
one know! They'll try and get him off, Miss? Oh, 
I'll go and beg of them." ' 

She stopped, unable to trust her voice any further. 
He stooped over her and kissed her brow. There was 
a certain solemnity in the moment for both of them. 
The pity of human fate overshadowed them. At last 
he said firmly, yet with great feeling : 

'I will not prejudge anything, that I promise you. 
I will keep my mind open to the last. But I should 
like to say it would not be any easier to me to 
throw myself into an agitation for reprieve because 
this man was tempted to crime by my property on 
my land. I should think it right to look at it altogether 
from the public point of view. The satisfaction of my 
own private compunctions of my own private feel- 
ings is not what I ought to regard. My own share 
in the circumstances, in the conditions which made 
such an act possible does indeed concern me deeply. 
[ 433 ] 


You cannot imagine but that the moral problem of 
it has possessed me ever since this dreadful thing 
happened. It troubled me much before. Now, it has 
become an oppression a torture. I have never 
seen my grandfather so moved, so distressed, in all 
my remembrance of him. Yet he is a man of the old 
school, with the old standards. As for me, if ever I 
come to the estate I will change the whole system, 
I will run no risks of such human wreck and ruin as 
this ' 

His voice faltered. 

'But/ he resumed, speaking steadily again, 'I 
ought to warn you that such considerations as these 
will not affect my judgement of this particular case. 
In the first place, I have no quarrel with capital pun- 
ishment as such. I do not believe we could rightly 
give it up. Your attitude properly means that wher- 
ever we can legitimately feel pity for a murderer, we 
should let him escape his penalty. I, on the other hand, 
believe that if the murderer saw things as they truly 
are, he would himself claim his own death, as his best 
chance, his only chance in this mysterious universe ! 
of self -recovery. Then it comes to this was the 
act murder? The English law of murder is not perfect, 
but it appears to me to be substantially just, and 
guided by it - 

'You talk as if there were no such things as mercy 
and pity in the world/ she interrupted, wildly; 'as 
if law were not made and administered by men of just 
the same stuff and fabric as the lawbreaker! 7 

He looked .troubled. 

'Ah, but law is something beyond laws or those who 
[ 434 ] 


administer them/ he said in a lower tone; 'and law is 
sacred ! not because it has been imposed upon us 
from without, but because it has grown up to what 
it is imperfect as it is out of our own best life ; 
ours, yet not ours; the best proof we have, when 
we look back at it in the large, when we feel its 
work in ourselves, of some diviner power than our 
own will our best clue to what that power may 

He spoke at first, looking away wrestling out his 
thought, as it were, by himself then turning back 
to her, his eyes emphasised the appeal implied, 
though not expressed, in what he said; intense ap- 
peal to her for sympathy, forbearance, mutual respect, 
through all acuteness of difference. His look both 
promised and implored. 

He had spoken to her but very rarely or indirectly 
as yet of his own religious or philosophical be- 
liefs. She was in a stage when such things interested 
her but little, and reticence in personal matters 
was so much the law of his life that even to 
her expansion was difficult. So that inevitably 
-she was arrested, for the moment, as any quick 
perception must be, by the things that unveil 

Then an upheaval of indignant feeling swept the 
impression away. All that he said might be ideally, 
profoundly true but the red blood of the common 
life was lacking in every word of it ! He ought to be 
incapable of saying it now. Her passionate question 
was, how could he argue how could he hold and 
mark the ethical balance when a woman was suffer- 
[ 435 ] 


ing, when children were to be left fatherless? Besides 
the ethical balance itself does it not alter accord- 
ing to the hands that hold it poacher or landlord, 
rich or poor? 

But she was too exhausted to carry on the contest 
in words. Both felt it would have to be renewed. But 
she said to herself secretly that Mr. Wharton, when 
he got to work, would alter the whole aspect of affairs. 
And she knew well that her vantage-ground as 
towards Aldous was strong. 

Then at last he was free to turn his whole attention 
for a little to her and her physical state, which made 
him miserable. He had never imagined that any one, 
vigorous and healthy as she was, could look so worn 
out in so short a time. She let him talk to her- 
lament, entreat, advise and at last she took ad- 
vantage of his anxiety and her admissions to come to 
the point, to plead that the marriage should be put 

She used the same arguments that she had done to 
her mother. 

'How can I bear to be thinking of these things' 
she pointed a shaking finger at the dress patterns 
lying scattered on the table 'with this agony, this 
death, under my eyes?' 

It was a great blow to him, and the practical in- 
conveniences involved were great. But the fibre of 
him of which she had just felt the toughness was 
delicate and sensitive as her own, and after a very 
short recoil he met her with great chivalry and sweet- 
ness, agreeing that everything should be 'put off for 
six weeks, till Easter in fact. She would have been 
[ 436 ] 


very grateful to him but that something some secret 
thought checked the words she tried to say. 

'I must go home then/ he said, rising and trying to 
smile. ' I shall have to make things straight with Aunt 
Neta, and set a great many arrangements in train. 
Now, you will try to think of something else? Let me 
leave with you a book that I can imagine you will 

She let herself be tended and thought for. At the 
last, just as he was going, he said : 

'Have you seen Mr. Wharton at all since this hap- 

His manner was just as usual. She felt that her eye 
was guilty, but the darkness of the firelit room shielded 

'I have not seen him since we met in the drive. I 
saw the solicitor who is working up the case for him 
yesterday. He came over to see Mrs. Hurd and me. 
I had not thought of asking him, but we agreed 
that, if he would undertake it, it would be the best 

'It is probably the best chance/ said Aldous, 
thoughtfully. 'I believe Wharton has not done much 
at the Bar since he was called, but that, no doubt, 
is because he has had so much on his hands in the way 
of journalism and politics. His ability is enough for 
anything, and he will throw himself into this. I do 
not think Hurd could do better/ 

She did not answer. She felt that he was mag- 
nanimous, but felt it coldly, without emotion. 

He came and stooped over her. 

' Good-night good -night - - tired child - - dear 
[ 437 ] 


heart ! When I saw you in that cottage this morning 
I thought of the words, " Give, and it shall be given 
unto you." All that my life can do to pour good 
measure, pressed down, running over, into yours, I 
vowed you then ! ' 

When the door closed upon him, Marcella, stretched 
in the darkness, shed the bitterest tears that had ever 
yet been hers tears which transformed her youth - 
which baptised her, as it were, into the fulness of our 
tragic life. 

She was still weeping when she heard the door softly 
opened. She sprang up and dried her eyes, but the 
little figure that glided in was not one to shrink from. 
Mary Harden came and sat down beside her. 

' I knew you would be miserable. Let me come and 
cry too. I have been my round have seen them all 
and I came to bring you news/ 

'How has she taken the verdict?' asked Marcella, 
struggling with her sobs, and succeeding at last in 
composing herself. 

'She was prepared for it. Charlie told her when he 
saw her after you left this afternoon that she must 
expect it.' 

There was a pause. 

'I shall soon hear, I suppose/ said Marcella, in a 
hardening voice, her hands round her knees, 'what 
Mr. Wharton is doing for the defence. He will appear 
before the magistrates, I suppose.' 

'Yes; but Charlie thinks the defence will be mainly 

reserved. Only a little more than a fortnight to the 

assizes ! The time is so short. But now this man has 

turned informer, they say the case is quite straight- 

[438 ] 


forward. With all the other evidence the police have 
there will be no difficulty in trying them all. Mar- 


Had there been light enough to show it, Mary's 
face would have revealed her timidity. 

'Marcella, Charlie asked me to give you a message. 
He begs you not to not to make Mrs. Kurd hope 
too much. He himself believes there is no hope, and 
it is not kind/ 

'Are you and he like all the rest/ cried Marcella, her 
passion breaking out again, 'only eager to have blood 
for blood?' 

Mary waited an instant. 

'It has almost broken Charlie's heart,' she said at 
last; 'but he thinks it was murder, and that Hurd 
will pay the penalty; nay, more' --she spoke with a 
kind of religious awe in her gentle voice 'that he 
ought to be glad to pay it. He believes it to be 
God's will, and I have heard him say that he would 
even have executions in public again under stricter 
regulations, of course that we may not escape, as 
we always do if we can, from all sight and thought of 
God's justice and God's punishments.' 

Marcella shuddered and rose. She almost threw 
Mary's hand away from her. 

'Tell your brother from me, Mary/ she said, 'that 
his God is to me just a constable in the service of 
the English game-laws! If He is such a one, I at 
least will fling my Everlasting No at him while 
I live.' 

And she swept from the room, leaving Mary aghast. 
[ 439 ] 


Meanwhile there was consternation and wrath at 
Maxwell Court, where Aldous, on his return from 
Mellor, had first of all given his great-aunt the news 
of the coroner's verdict, and had then gone on to 
break to her the putting-off of the marriage. His 
championship of Marcella in the matter and his dis- 
avowal of all grievance were so quiet and decided, that 
Miss Raeburn had been only able to allow herself a 
very modified strain of comment and remonstrance, 
so long as he was still there to listen. But she was 
all the more outspoken when he was gone, and Lady 
Winterbourne was sitting with her. Lady Winter- 
bourne, who was at home alone, while her husband 
was with a married daughter on the Riviera, had come 
over to dine tete-h-tete with her friend, finding it im- 
possible to remain solitary while so much was hap- 

'Well, my dear/ said Miss Raeburn, shortly, as her 
guest entered the room, 'I may as well tell you at 
once that Aldous 's marriage is put off/ 

'Put off!' exclaimed Lady Winterbourne, bewil- 
dered. 'Why it was only Thursday that I was 
discussing it all with Marcella, and she told me 
everything was settled/ 

'Thursday! I dare say 1 / said Miss Raeburn, 
stitching away with fiery energy; 'but since then a 
poacher has murdered one of our gamekeepers, which 
makes all the difference/ 

'What do you mean, Agneta?' 

' What I say, my dear. The poacher was Marcella's 
friend, and she cannot now distract her mind from 
him sufficiently to marry Aldous, though every plan 
[ 440 ] 


he has in the world will be upset by her proceedings. 
And as for his election, you may depend upon it she 
will never ask or know whether he gets in next Mon- 
day or no. That goes without saying. She is mean- 
while absorbed with the poacher's defence, Mr. 
Wharton, of course, conducting it. This is your 
modern young woman, my dear typical, I should 

Miss Raeburn turned her buttonhole in fine style, 
and at lightning speed, to show the coolness of her 
mind, then with a rattling of all her lockets, looked 
up and waited for Lady Winterbourne's reflexions. 

'She has often talked to me of these people the 
Kurds/ said Lady Winterbourne, slowly. 'She has 
always made special friends with them. Don't you 
remember she told us about them that day she first 
came back to lunch?' 

' Of course I remember ! That day she lectured Max- 
well, at first sight, on his duties. She began well. 
As for these people,' said Miss Raeburn, more slowly, 
'one is, of course, sorry for the wife and children, 
though I am a good deal sorrier for Mrs. Westall, and 
poor, poor Mrs. Dynes. The whole affair has so upset 
Maxwell and me, we have hardly been able to eat 
or sleep since. I thought it made Maxwell look dread- 
fully old this morning, and with all that he has got 
before him too! I shall insist on sending for Clarke 
to-morrow morning if he does not have a better night. 
And now this postponement will be one more trouble 
-all the engagements to alter, and the invitations. 
Really! that girl.' 

And Miss Raeburn broke off short, feeling simply 
[ 441 ] 


that the words which were allowed to a well-bred 
person were wholly inadequate to her state of mind. 

'But if she feels it as you or I might feel such 
a thing about some one we knew or cared for, Agneta?' 

'How can she feel it like that?' cried Miss Raeburn, 
exasperated. 'How can she know any one of of 
that class well enough? It is not seemly, I tell you, 
Adelaide, and I don't believe it is sincere. It's just 
done to make herself conspicuous, and show her power 
over Aldous. For other reasons too, if the truth were 

Miss Raeburn turned over the shirt she was making 
for some charitable society and drew out some tack- 
ing threads with a loud noise which relieved her. Lady 
Winterbourne's old and delicate cheek had flushed. 

' I 'm sure it 's sincere/ she said, with emphasis. ' Do 
you mean to say, Agneta, that one can't sympathise, 
in such an awful thing, with people of another class, 
as one would with one's own flesh and blood?' 

Miss Raeburn winced. She felt for a moment the 
pressure of a democratic world a hated, formidable 
world through her friend's question. Then she stood 
to her guns. 

'I dare say you'll think it sounds bad,' she said, 
stoutly; 'but in my young days it would have been 
thought a piece of posing of sentimentalism - 
something indecorous and unfitting if a girl had put 
herself in such a position. Marcella ought to be ab- 
sorbed in her marriage ; that is the natural thing. How 
Mrs. Boyce can allow her to mix herself with such 
things as this murder to live in that cottage, as I 
hear she has been doing, passes my comprehension.' 
[ 442 ] 


'You mean/ said Lady Winterbourne, dreamily, 
'that if one had been very fond of one's maid, and she 
died, one would n't put on mourning for her. Mar- 
cella would/ 

'I dare say/ said Miss Raeburn, snappishly. 'She is 
capable of anything far-fetched and theatrical/ 

The door opened and Hallin came in. He had been 
suffering of late, and much confined to the house. 
But the news of the murder had made a deep and 
painful impression upon him, and he had been eagerly 
acquainting himself with the facts. Miss Raeburn, 
whose kindness ran with unceasing flow along the 
channels she allowed it, was greatly attached to him 
in spite of his views, and she now threw herself upon 
him for sympathy in the matter of the wedding. In 
any grievance that concerned Aldous she counted upon 
him, and her shrewd eyes had plainly perceived 
that he had made no great friendship with Marcella. 

'I am very sorry for Aldous/ he said, at once; 'but 
I understand her perfectly. So does Aldous/ 

Miss Raeburn was angrily silent. But when Lord 
Maxwell, who had been talking with Aldous, came in, 
he proved, to her final discomfiture, to be very much 
of the same opinion. 

'My dear/ he said, wearily, as he dropped into his 
chair, his old face grey and pinched, 'this thing is 
too terrible the number of widows and orphans 
that night's work will make before the end breaks 
my heart to think of. It will be a relief not to have 
to consider festivities while these men are actually 
before the courts. What I am anxious about is that 
Marcella should not make herself ill with excitement. 
[ 443 ] 


The man she is interested in will be hung, must be 
hung; and with her somewhat volatile, impulsive 
nature - 

He spoke with old-fashioned discretion and measure. 
Then quickly he pulled himself up, and, with some 
trivial question or other, offered his arm to Lady Win- 
terbourne, for Aldous had just come in, and dinner 
was ready. 


NEARLY three weeks passed short, flashing weeks, 
crowded with agitations, inward or outward, for all the 
persons of this story. 

After the inquiry before the magistrates con- 
ducted, as she passionately thought, with the most 
marked animus on the part of the bench and police 
towards the prisoners had resulted in the committal 
for trial of Kurd and his five companions, Marcella 
wrote Aldous Raeburn a letter which hurt him sorely. 

' Don't come over to see me for a little while/ it ran.. 
'My mind is all given over to feelings which must 
seem to you which, I know, do seem to you un- 
reasonable and unjust. But they are my life, and 
when they are criticised, or even treated coldly, I can- 
not bear it. When you are not there to argue with, 
I can believe, most sincerely, that you have a right 
to see this matter as you do, and that it is monstrous 
of me to expect you to yield to me entirely in a thing 
that concerns your sense of public duty. But don't 
come now not before the trial. I will appeal to you 
if I think you can help me. I know you will if you can. 
Mr. Wharton keeps me informed of everything. I en- 
close his last two letters, which will show you the line 
he means to take up with regard to some of the 

Aldous's reply cost him a prodigal amount of pain 
and difficulty. 

[ 445 ] 


'I will do anything in the world to make these days 
less of a burden to you. You can hardly imagine that 
it is not grievous to me to think of any trouble of yours 
as being made worse by my being with you. But still 
I understand. One thing only I ask that you should 
not imagine the difference between us greater than it 
is. The two letters you enclose have given me much 
to ponder. If only the course of the trial enables me 
with an honest heart to throw myself into your cru- 
sade of mercy, with what joy shall I come and ask 
you to lead me, and to forgive my own slower sense 
and pity ! 

'I should like you to know that Hallin is very much 
inclined to agree with you, to think that the whole 
affair was a "scrimmage/' and that Kurd at least 
ought to be reprieved. He would have come to talk 
it over with you himself, but that Clarke forbids him 
anything that interests or excites him for the present. 
He has been very ill and suffering for the last fortnight, 
and, as you know, when these attacks come on we try 
to keep everything from him that could pain or agitate 
him. But I see that this whole affair is very much on 
his mind, in spite of my efforts. 

'. . . Oh, my darling! I am writing late at night, 
with your letter open before me and your picture close 
to my hand. So many things rise in my mind to say to 
you. There will come a time there must! when 
I may pour them all out. Meanwhile, amid all jars 
and frets, remember this, that I have loved you better 
each day since first we met. 

'I will not come to Mellor then for a little while. 
My election, little heart as I have for it, will fill up the 

[ 446 ] 


week. The nomination-day is fixed for Thursday and 
the polling for Monday/ 

Marcella read the letter with a confusion of feeling 
so great as to be in itself monstrous and demoralising. 
Was she never to be simple, to see her way clearly 

As for him, as he rode about the lanes and beech 
woods in the days that followed, alone often with 
that Nature for which all such temperaments as 
Aldous Raeburn's have so secret and so observant 
an affection, he was perpetually occupied with this 
difficulty which had arisen between Marcella and him- 
self, turning it over and over in the quiet of the morn- 
ing, before the turmoil of the day began. 

He had followed the whole case before the magis- 
trates with the most scrupulous care. And since then, 
he had twice run across the Widrington solicitor for 
the defence, who was now instructing Wharton. This 
man, although a strong Radical, and employed gener- 
ally by his own side, saw no objection at all to letting 
Lord Maxwell's heir and representative understand 
how in his opinion the case was going. Aldous Rae- 
burn was a person whom everybody respected; con- 
fidences were safe with him ; and he was himself deeply 
interested in the affair. The Raeburns being the 
Raeburns, with all that that implied for smaller people 
in Brookshire, little Mr. Burridge was aware of no 
reason whatever why Westall's employers should not 
know that, although Mr. Wharton was working up 
the defence with an energy and ability which set Bur- 
ridge marvelling, it was still his, Burridge 's, opinion, 
that everything that could be advanced would be 
[ 447 ] 


wholly unavailing with the jury ; that the evidence, as 
it came into final shape, looked worse for Kurd rather 
than better; and that the only hope for the man lay 
in the after-movement for reprieve which can always 
be got up in a game-preserving case. 

'And is as a rule political and anti-landlord/ thought 
Aldous, on one of these mornings, as he rode along 
the edge of the down. He foresaw exactly what would 
happen. As he envisaged the immediate future, he 
saw one figure as the centre of it not Marcella, but 
Wharton! Wharton was defending, Wharton would 
organise the petition, Wharton would apply for his 
own support and his grandfather's, through Marcella. 
To Wharton would belong not only the popular kudos 
of the matter, but much more, and above all, Mar- 
cella's gratitude. 

Aldous pulled up his horse an instant, recognising 
that spot in the road, that downward stretching glade 
among the beeches, where he had asked Marcella to 
be his wife. The pale February sunlight was spread- 
ing from his left hand through the bare grey trunks, 
and over the distant shoulders of the woods, far into 
the white-and-purple of the chalk plain. Sounds of 
labour came from the distant fields ; sounds of winter 
birds from the branches round him. The place, the 
time, raised in him all the intensest powers of con- 
sciousness. He saw himself as the man standing mid- 
way in everything speculation, politics, sympathies 
- as the perennially ineffective and, as it seemed to 
his morbid mood, the perennially defeated type, be- 
side the Whartons of this world. Wharton ! He knew 
him had read him long ago read him afresh of 
[ 448 ] 


late. Raeburn's lip showed the contempt, the bitter- 
ness which the philosopher could not repress, showed 
also the humiliation of the lover. Here was he, ban- 
ished from Marcella; here was Wharton, in possession 
of her mind and sympathies, busily forging a link - 

'It shall be broken!' said Raeburn to himself, with 
a sudden fierce concentration of will. 'So much I will 
claim and enforce/ 

But not now, nothing now, but patience, delicacy, 
prudence. He gathered himself together with a long 
breath, and went his way. 

For the rest, the clash of motives and affections 
he felt and foresaw in this matter of the Disley 
murders became day by day more harassing. The 
moral debate was strenuous enough. The murders 
had roused all the humane and ethical instincts, which 
were in fact the man, to such a point that they pursued 
him constantly, in the pauses of his crowded days, 
like avenging Erinnyes. Hallin's remark that 'game- 
preserving creates crime' left him no peace. Intel- 
lectually he argued it, and on the whole rejected it ; 
morally, and in feeling, it scourged him. He had 
suffered all his mature life under a too painful and 
scrupulous sense that he, more than other men, was 
called to be his brother's keeper. It was natural that, 
during these exhausting days, the fierce death on 
Westall's rugged face, the piteous agony in Dynes 's 
young eyes and limbs, should haunt him, should make 
his landlord's place and responsibility often mere 
ashes and bitterness. 

But, as Marcella had been obliged to perceive, he 
[ 449 ] 


drew the sharpest line between the bearings of this 
ghastly business on his own private life and action, 
and its relation to public order. That the game- 
keepers destroyed were his servants, or practically his 
servants, made no difference to him whatever in his 
estimate of the crime itself. If the circumstances had 
been such that he could honestly have held Hurd not 
to be a murderer, no employer's interest, no landlord's 
desire for vengeance, would have stood in his way. 
On the other hand, believing, as he emphatically did, 
that Kurd's slaying of Westall had been of a kind more 
deliberate and less capable of excuse than most mur- 
ders, he would have held it a piece of moral cowardice 
to allow his own qualms and compunctions as to the 
rights and wrongs of game-preserving to interfere 
with a duty to justice and society. 

Aye ! and something infinitely dearer to him than 
his own qualms and compunctions. 

Hallin, who watched the whole debate in his friend 
day by day, was conscious that he had never seen 
Aldous more himself, in spite of trouble of mind; 
more 'in character,' so to speak, than at this moment. 
Spiritual dignity of mind and temper, blended with a 
painful personal humility, and interfused with all - 
determining all elements of judgement, subtleties, 
prejudices, modes of looking at things, for which he was 
hardly responsible, so deeply ingrained were they by 
inheritance and custom. More than this : did not the 
ultimate explanation of the whole attitude of the man 
lie in the slow but irresistible revolt of a strong in- 
dividuality against the passion which had for a time 
suppressed it? The truth of certain moral relations 

[ 450 ] 


may be for a time obscured and distorted; none the 
less, reality wins the day. So Hallin read it. 

Meanwhile, during days when both for Aldous and 
Wharton the claims of a bustling, shouting public, 
which must be canvassed, shaken hands with, and 
spoken to, and the constant alternations of business 
meetings, committee-rooms, and the rest, made it 
impossible, after all, for either man to spend more 
than the odds and ends of thought upon anything 
outside the clatter of politics, Marcella had been living 
a life of intense and monotonous feeling, shut up al- 
most within the walls of a tiny cottage, hanging over 
sick-beds, and thrilling to each pulse of anguish as it 
beat in the miserable beings she tended. 

The marriage of the season, with all its accompany- 
ing festivities and jubilations, had not been put off 
for seven weeks till after Easter without arous- 
ing a storm of critical astonishment both in village and 
county. And when the reason was known that it 
was because Miss Boyce had taken the Disley murders 
so desperately to heart, that until the whole affair 
was over, and the men either executed or reprieved, 
she could spare no thought to wedding-clothes or 
cates- there was curiously little sympathy with 
Marcella. Most of her own class thought it a piece 
of posing, if they did not say so as frankly as Miss 
Raeburn something done for self-advertisement 
and to advance anti-social opinions ; while the Mellor 
cottagers, with the instinctive English recoil from any 
touch of sentiment not, so to speak, in the bargain, 
gossiped and joked about it freely. 
[ 451 ] 


'She can't be very fond o' 'im, not of Muster Rae- 
burn, she can't/ said old Patton, delivering himself 
as he sat leaning on his stick at his open door, while 
his wife and another woman or two chattered inside. 
'Not what I'd call lover-y. She don't want to run in 
harness, she don't, no sooner than she need. She's 
a peert filly is Miss Boyce.' 

'I've been a-waitin, an a-waitin/ said his wife, with 
her gentle sigh, 'to hear summat o' that new straw- 
plaitin she talk about. But nary a word. They do 
say as it's give up althegither.' 

'No, she's took up wi nursin Minta Hurd - 
wonderful took up/ said another woman. 'They do 
say as Ann Mullins can't a-bear her. When she's 
there nobody can open their mouth. When that kind 
o' thing happens in the fambly it's bad enoof without 
havin a lady trailin about you all day long, so that 
you have to be mindin yersel, an thinkin about givin 
her a cheer, an the like.' 

One day in the dusk, more than a fortnight after 
the inquest, Marcella, coming from the Kurds' cottage, 
overtook Mrs. Jellison, who was going home after 
spending the afternoon with her daughter. 

Hitherto Marcella had held aloof from Isabella 
Westall and her relations, mainly, to do her justice, 
from fear lest she might somehow hurt or offend them. 
She had been to see Charlie Dynes 's mother, but she 
had only brought herself to send a message of sym- 
pathy through Mary Harden to the keeper's widow. 

Mrs. Jellison looked at her askance with her old 
wild eyes as Marcella came up with her. 

'Oh, she's puddlin along/ she said in answer to 
[ 452 ] 


Marcella's inquiry, using a word very familiar in the 
village. 'She'll not do herself a mischief while there's 
Nurse Ellen an me to watch her like a pair o' cats. 
She's dreadful upset, is Isabella shouldn't ha' 
thought it of her. That fust day' - - a cloud darkened 
the curious, dreamy face 'no, I'm not a-goin to 
think about that fust day, I'm not, 't ain't a ha'porth 
o' good,' she added, resolutely; 'but she was all right 
when they'd let her get 'im 'ome, an wash an settle 
'im, an put 'im comfortable like in his coffin. He 
wor a big man, Miss, when he wor laid out! Searle, 
as made the coffin, told her as 'ee 'ad n't made one 
such an extry size since old Harry Flood, the black- 
smith, fifteen year ago. 'Ee'd soon 'a done for Jim 
Hurd, if it 'ad been fists o' both sides. But guns is 
things as yer can't reckon on.' 

'Why did n't he let Hurd alone/ said Marcella, 
sadly, 'and prosecute him next day? It's attacking 
men when their blood is up that brings these awful 
things about/ 

'Wai, I don't see that/ said Mrs. Jellison, pug- 
naciously; 'he wor paid to do 't an he had the law 
on his side. 'Ow's she?' she said, lowering her voice 
and jerking her thumb in the direction of the Kurds' 

'She's very ill/ replied Marcella, with a contrac- 
tion of the brow. 'Dr. Clarke says she ought to stay 
in bed, but of course she won't/ 

'They're a-goin to try 'im Thursday?' said Mrs. 
Jellison, inquiringly. 


'An Muster Wharton be a-goin to defend 'im. 
[ 453 ] 


Muster Wharton may be cliver, 'ee may they do 
say as 'ee can see the grass growin, 'ee's that knowin 
-but 'ee'll not get Jim Kurd off; there's nobody 
in the village as b'lieves for a moment as 'ow he will. 
They'll best 'im. Lor bless yer, they'll best 'im. I 
was a-sayin to Isabella this afternoon 'ee'll not save 
'is neck, don't you be afeard.' 

Marcella drew herself up with a shiver of repulsion. 

'Will it mend your daughter's grief to see another 
woman's heart broken? Don't you suppose it might 
bring her some comfort, Mrs. Jellison, if she were to 
try and forgive that poor wretch? She might remem- 
ber that her husband gave him provocation, and that 
anyway, if his life is spared, his punishment and their 
misery will be heavy enough !' 

'Oh, Lor, no!' said Mrs. Jellison, composedly. 'She 
don't want to be forgivin of 'im. Mr. Harden 'ee 
come talkin to 'er, but she isn't one o' that sort, 
is n't Isabella. I'm sartin sure she'll be better in 'er- 
self when they've put 'im out o' the way. It makes 
her all ov a fever to think of Muster Wharton gettin 
'im off. I don't bear Jim Kurd no pertickler malice. 
Isabella may talk herself black i' the face, but she 
and Johnnie '11 have to come 'ome and live along o' 
me, whatever she may say. She can't stay in that 
cottage, cos they'll be wantin it for another keeper. 
Lord Maxwell 'ee 's givin her a fine pension, my word 
'ee is ! an says 'ee'll look after Johnnie. An what with 
my bit airnins we'll do, yer know, Miss we'll do!' 

The old woman looked up with a nod, her green 
eyes sparkling with the queer, inhuman light that 
belonged to them. 

[ 454 ] 


Marcella could not bring herself to say good-night 
to her, and was hurrying on without a word, when 
Mrs. Jellison stopped her. 

'An 'ow about that straw-plaitin, Miss?' she said, 

' I have had to put it on one side for a bit/ said Mar- 
cella, coldly, hating the woman's society. 'I have 
had my hands full and Lady Winterbourne has been 
away, but we shall, of course, take it up again 

She walked away quickly, and Mrs. Jellison hobbled 
after her, grinning to herself every now and then as 
she caught the straight, tall figure against the red 
evening sky. 

Til go in ter town termorrer/ she thought, 'an 
have a crack wi Jimmy Gedge; 'ee need n't be afeard 
for 'is livin. An them great fules as ha bin runnin in 
a string arter 'er, an cacklin about their eighteen- 
pence a score, as I' ve told 'em times, I '11 eat my apron 
the fust week as iver they get it. I don't hold wi 
ladies no, nor passons neither not when it comes 
to meddlin wi your wittles, an dictatin to yer about 
forgivin them as ha got the better ov yer. That 
young lady there, what do she matter? That sort's 
allus gaddin about? What '11 she keer about us when 
she's got 'er fine husband? Here o' Saturday, gone 
o' Monday that's what she is. Now Jimmy Gedge, 
yer kin allus count on 'im. Thirty-six year 'ee ha set 
there in that 'ere shop, and I guess 'ee'll set there till 
they call 'im ter kingdom come. 'Ee's a cheatin, 
sweatin, greedy old skinflint is Jimmy Gedge; but 
when yer wants 'im yer kin find 'im/ 
[ 455 ] 


Marcella hurried home; she was expecting a letter 
from Wharton, the third within a week. She had not 
set eyes on him since they had met that first morning 
in the drive, and it was plain to her that he was as 
unwilling as she was that there should be any meet- 
ing between them. Since the moment of his taking 
up the case, in spite of the pressure of innumerable 
engagements, he had found time to send her, almost 
daily, sheets covered with his small, even writing, in 
which every detail and prospect of the legal situation, 
so far as it concerned. James Hurd, was noted and crit- 
icised with a shrewdness and fulness which never 
wavered, and never lost for a moment the professional 

'Dear Miss Boyce' the letters began leading 
up to a ' Yours faithfully/ which Marcella read as 
carefully as the rest. Often, as she turned them over, 
she asked herself whether that scene in the library had 
not been a mere delusion of the brain, whether the 
man whose wild words and act had burnt themselves 
into her life could possibly be writing her these letters, 
in this key, without a reference, without an allusion. 
Every day, as she opened them, she looked them 
through quietly with a shaking pulse; every day she 
found herself proudly able to hand them on to her 
mother, with the satisfaction of one who has nothing 
to conceal, whatever the rest of the world may suspect. 
He was certainly doing his best to replace their friend- 
ship on that level of high comradeship in ideas and 
causes which, as she told herself, it had once occupied. 
His own wanton aggression and her weakness had 
toppled it down thence, and brought it to ruin. She 
[ 456 ] 


could never speak to him, never know him again till 
it was re-established. Still his letters galled her. He 
assumed, she supposed, that such a thing could hap- 
pen, and nothing more be said about it? How little 
he knew her, or what she had in her mind ! 

Now, as she walked along, wrapped in her plaid 
cape, her thought was one long tumultuous succession 
of painful or passionate images, interrupted none the 
less at times by those curious, self -observing pauses 
of which she had always been capable. She had been 
sitting for hours beside Mrs. Hurd, with little Willie 
upon her knees. The mother, always anaemic and con- 
sumptive, was by now prostrate, the prey of a long- 
drawn agony, peopled by visions of Jim alone and in 
prison Jim on the scaffold with the white cap over 
his eyes Jim in the prison coffin which would 
rouse her shrieking from dreams which were the rend- 
ing asunder of soul and body. Minta Kurd's love for 
the unhappy being who had brought her to this pass 
had been infinitely maternal. There had been a bound- 
less pity in it, and the secret pride of a soul, which, 
humble and modest towards all the rest of the world, 
yet knew itself to be the breath and sustenance, the 
indispensable aid of one other soul in the universe, 
and gloried accordingly. To be cut off now from 
all ministration, all comforting to have to lie there 
like a log, imagining the moment when the neigh- 
bours should come in and say, ' It is all over 
they have broken his neck and buried him ' it 
was a doom beyond all even that her timid pessimist 
heart had ever dreamed. She had already seen him 
twice in prison, and she knew that she would see 
[ 457 ] 


him again. She was to go on Monday, Miss Boyce 
said, before the trial began, and after if they 
brought him in guilty they would let her say good- 
bye. She was always thirsting to see him. But when 
she went, the prison surroundings paralysed her. Both 
she and Kurd felt themselves caught in the wheels 
of a great relentless machine, of which the workings 
filled them with a voiceless terror. He talked to her 
spasmodically of the most incongruous things - 
breaking out sometimes with a glittering eye into a 
string of instances bearing on Westall's bullying and 
tyrannous ways. He told her to return the books Miss 
Boyce had lent him, but when asked if he would like 
to see Marcella he shrank and said no. Mr. Wharton 
was 'doin capital' for him; but she wasn't to count 
on his getting off. And he did n't know that he wanted 
to, neither. Once she took Willie to see him; the 
child nearly died of the journey; and the father, 
'though any one can see, Miss, he's just sick for 'im,' 
would not hear of his coming again. Sometimes he 
would hardly kiss her at parting; he sat on his chair, 
with his great head drooped forward over his red 
hands, lost in a kind of animal lethargy. Westall's 
name always roused him. Hate still survived. But 
it made her life faint within her to talk of the mur- 
dered man wherein she showed her lack of the usual 
peasant's realism and curiosity in the presence of facts 
of blood and violence. When she was told it was 
time for her to go, and the heavy door was locked 
behind her, the poor creature, terrified at the warder 
and the bare prison silences, would hurry away as 
though the heavy hand of this awful Justice were laid 
[ 458 ]. 


upon her too, torn by the thought of him she left 
behind, and by the remembrance that he had only 
kissed her once, and yet impelled by mere physical 
instinct towards the relief of Ann Mullins's rough face 
waiting for her of the outer air and the free heaven. 

As for Willie, he was fast dwindling. Another week 
or two the doctor said no more. He lay on Mar- 
cella's knee on a pillow, wasted to an infant's weight, 
panting and staring with those strange blue eyes, but 
always patient, always struggling to say his painful 
'thank you' when she fed him with some of the fruit 
constantly sent her from Maxwell Court. Everything 
that was said about his father he took in and under- 
stood, but he did not seem to fret. His mother was 
almost divided from him by this passivity of the 
dying; nor could she give him or his state much at- 
tention. Her gentle, sensitive, but not profound nature 
was strained already beyond bearing by more gnaw- 
ing griefs. 

After her long sit in Mrs. Kurd's kitchen Marcella 
found the air of the February evening tonic and de- 
lightful. Unconsciously impressions stole upon her - 
the lengthening day, the celandines in the hedges, the 
swelling lilac buds in the cottage gardens. They spoke 
to her youth, and out of mere physical congruity it 
could not but respond. Still, her face kept the angered 
look with which she had parted from Mrs. Jellison. 
More than that the last few weeks had visibly 
changed it, had graved upon it the signs of 'living/ 
It was more beautiful than ever in its significant black 
and white, but it was older a woman spoke from it. 
Marcella had gone down into reality, and had found 
[ 459 I 


there the rebellion and the storm for which such souls 
as hers are made. Rebellion most of all. She had been 
living with the poor, in their stifling rooms, amid their 
perpetual struggle for a little food and clothes and 
bodily ease ; she had seen this struggle, so hard in itself, 
combined with agonies of soul and spirit, which made 
the physical destitution seem to the spectator some- 
thing brutally gratuitous, a piece of careless and 
tyrannous cruelty on the part of Nature or God? 
She would hardly let herself think of Aldous though 
she must think of him by and by ! He and his fared 
sumptuously every hour ! As for her, it was as though 
in her woman's arms, on her woman's breast, she 
carried Lazarus all day, stooping to him with a hunger- 
ing pity. And Aldous stood aloof. Aldous would not 
help her or not with any help worth having in 
consoling this misery binding up these sores. Her 
heart cried shame on him. She had a crime against 
him to confess but she felt herself his superior none 
the less. If he cast her off why then surely they 
would be quits, quits for good and all. 

As she reached the front door of Mellor, she saw a 
little two- wheeled cart standing outside it, and William 
holding the pony. 

Visitors were nowadays more common at Mellor 
than they had been, and her instinct was to escape. 
But as she was turning to a side door William touched 
his cap to her. 

'Mr. Wharton's waiting to see you, Miss/ 

She stopped sharply. 

'Where is Mrs. Boyce, William?' 

'In the drawing-room, Miss/ 
[ 460 ] 


She walked in calmly. Wharton was standing on the 
rug, talking ; Mrs. Boyce was listening to what he had 
to say with the light repellent air Marcella knew so 

When she came in, Wharton stepped forward cere- 
moniously to shake hands, then began to speak at 
once, with the manner of one who is on a business 
errand and has no time to waste. 

' I thought it best, Miss Boyce, as I had unexpectedly 
a couple of spare hours this evening, to come and let 
you know how things were going. You understand 
that the case comes on at the assizes next Thursday?' 

Marcella assented. She had seated herself on the 
old sofa beside the fire, her ungloved hands on her 
knee. Something in her aspect made Wharton 's eyes 
waver an instant as he looked down upon her but 
it was the only sign. 

'I should like to warn you/ he said, gravely, 'that 
I entertain no hope whatever of getting James Kurd 
off. I shall do my best, but the verdict will certainly 
be murder; and the judge, I think, is sure to take a 
severe view. We may get a recommendation to mercy, 
though I believe it to be extremely unlikely. But if so, 
the influence of the judge, according to what I hear, 
will probably be against us. The prosecution have got 
together extremely strong evidence as to Kurd's 
long connexion with the gang, in spite of the Rae- 
burns' kindness as to his repeated threats that he 
would "do for" Westall if he and his friends were 
interrupted and so on. His own story is wholly 
uncorroborated ; and Dynes's deposition, so far as it 
goes, is all against it.' 

[ 461 ] 


He went on to elaborate these points with great clear- 
ness of exposition and at some length; then he paused. 

'This being so/ he resumed, 'the question is, what 
can be done? There must be a petition. Amongst my 
own party I shall be, of course, able to do something, 
but we must have men of all sides. Without some at 
least of the leading Conservatives, we shall fare badly. 
In one word do you imagine that you can induce 
Mr. Raeburn and Lord Maxwell to sign?' 

Mrs. Boyce watched him keenly. Marcella sat in 
frozen paleness. 

'I will try/ she said at last, with deliberation. 

'Then' - - he took up his gloves 'there may be a 
chance for us. If you cannot succeed, no one else can. 
But if Lord Maxwell and Mr. Raeburn can be secured, 
others will easily follow. Their names especially 
under all the circumstances will carry a peculiar 
weight. I may say everything, in the first instance - 
the weight, the first effect of the petition depends 
on them. Well, then, I leave it in your hands. No 
time should be lost after the sentence. As to the 
grounds of our plea, I shall, of course, lay them down 
in court to the best of my ability/ 

'I shall be there/ she interrupted. 

He started. So did Mrs. Boyce, but characteristic- 
ally she made no comment. 

'Well, then/ he resumed after a pause, 'I need say 
no more for the present. How is the wife? 7 

She replied, and a few other formal sentences of 
inquiry or comment passed between them. 

'And your election?' said Mrs. Boyce, still studying 
him with hostile eyes, as he got up to take leave. 
[ 462 ] 


'To-morrow!' He threw up his hands with a little 
gesture of impatience. ' That at least will be one thread 
spun off and out of the way, whatever happens. I 
must get back to Widrington as fast as my pony can 
carry me. Good-bye, Miss Boyce/ 

Marcella went slowly upstairs. The scene which had 
just passed was unreal, impossible; yet every limb 
was quivering. Then the sound of the front door 
shutting sent a shock through her whole nature. The 
first sensation was one of horrible emptiness, forlorn- 
ness. The next her mind threw itself with fresh 
vehemence upon the question, 'Can I, by any means, 
get my way with Aldous?' 


AND may the Lord have mercy on your soul!' 

The deep-pitched words fell slowly on Marcella's 
ears, as she sat leaning forward in the gallery of the 
Widrington Assize Court. Women were sobbing beside 
and behind her. Minta Kurd, to her left, lay in a half- 
swoon against her sister-in-law, her face buried in 
Ann's black shawl. For an instant after Kurd's death- 
sentence had been spoken Marcella's nerves ceased to 
throb the long exhaustion of feeling stopped. The 
harsh light and shade of the ill-lit room ; the gas-lamps 
in front of the judge, blanching the ranged faces of the 
jury ; the long table of reporters below, some writing, 
but most looking intently towards the dock ; the figure 
of Wharton opposite, in his barrister's gown and wig 
that face of his, so small, nervous, delicate the 
frowning eyebrows a dark bar under the white of 
the wig his look, alert and hostile, fixed upon the 
judge ; the heads and attitudes of the condemned men, 
especially the form of a fair-haired youth, the principal 
murderer of Charlie Dynes, who stood a little in front 
of the line, next to Kurd, and overshadowing his 
dwarf's stature these things Marcella saw indeed; 
for years after she could have described them point 
by point; but for some seconds or minutes her eyes 
stared at them without conscious reaction of the 
mind on the immediate spectacle. 
In place of it, the whole day, all these hours that 
[ 464 ] 


she had been sitting there, brushed before her in a 
synthesis of thought, replacing the stream of impres- 
sions and images. The crushing accumulation of hos- 
tile evidence witness after witness coming forward 
to add to the damning weight of it; the awful weak- 
ness of the defence Wharton's irritation under it 
- the sharpness, the useless, acrid ability of his cross- 
examinations ; yet, contrasting with the legal failure, 
the personal success, the mixture of grace with energy, 
the technical accomplishment of the manner, as one 
wrestling before his equals nothing left here of the 
garrulous vigour and brutality of the labourers' meet- 
ing ! the masterly use of all that could avail, the few 
quiet words addressed at the end to the pity of the 
jury, and by implication to the larger ethical sense of 
the community, all this she thought of with great 
intellectual clearness while the judge's sonorous voice 
rolled along, sentencing each prisoner in turn. Horror 
and pity were alike weary ; the brain asserted itself. 

The court was packed. Aldous Raeburn sat on 
Marcella's right hand ; and during the day the atten- 
tion of everybody in the dingy building had been 
largely divided between the scene below, and that 
strange group in the gallery where the man who had 
just been elected Conservative member for East Brook- 
shire, who was Lord Maxwell's heir, and Westall's 
employer, sat beside his betrothed, in charge of a party 
which comprised not only Marcella Boyce, but the 
wife, sister, and little girl of Westall's murderer. 

On one occasion some blunt answer of a witness 
had provoked a laugh coming no one knew whence. 
The judge turned to the gallery and looked up sternly 


' I cannot conceive why men and women women 
especially should come crowding in to hear such 
a case as this ; but if I hear another laugh I shall clear 
the court/ Marcella, whose whole conscious nature 
was by now one network of sensitive nerve, saw Aldous 
flush and shrink as the words were spoken. Then, 
looking across the court, she caught the eye of an old 
friend of the Raeburns, a county magistrate. At the 
judge's remark he had turned involuntarily to where 
she and Aldous sat ; then, as he met Miss Boyce's face, 
instantly looked away again. She perfectly passion- 
ately understood that Brookshire was very sorry 
for Aldous Raeburn that day. 

The death - sentences three in number were 
over. The judge was a very ordinary man ; but, even 
for the ordinary man, such an act carries with it a 
great tradition of what is befitting, which imposes 
itself on voice and gesture. When he ceased, the deep 
breath of natural emotion could be felt and heard 
throughout the crowded court; loud wails of sobbing 
women broke from the gallery. 

'Silence!' cried an official voice, and the judge 
resumed, amid stifled sounds that stabbed Marcella 's 
sense, once more nakedly alive to everything around it. 

The sentences to penal servitude came to an end 
also. Then a ghastly pause. The line of prisoners 
directed by the warders turned right-about face to- 
wards a door in the back wall of the court. As the 
men filed out, the tall, fair youth, one of those con- 
demned to death, stopped an instant and waved his 
hand to his sobbing sweetheart in the gallery. Kurd 
also turned irresolutely. 

[ 466 ] 


'Look!' exclaimed Ann Mullins, propping up the 
fainting woman beside her, 'he's goin/ 

Marcella bent forward. She, rather than the wife, 
caught the last look on his large dwarf's face, so 
white and dazed, the eyes blinking under the gas. 

Aldous touched her softly on the arm. 

'Yes/ she said, quickly, 'yes, we must get her out. 
Ann, can you lift her?' 

Aldous went to one side of the helpless woman: 
Ann Mullins held her on the other. Marcella followed, 
pressing the little girl close against her long black 
cloak. The gallery made way for them; every one 
looked and whispered till they had passed. Below, 
at the foot of the stairs, they found themselves in 
a passage crowded with people lawyers, witnesses, 
officials, mixed with the populace. Again a road was 
opened for Aldous and his charges. 

'This way, Mr. Raeburn/ said a policeman, with 
alacrity. 'Stand back, please! Is your carriage there, 

'Let Ann Mullins take her put them into the cab 
- 1 want to speak to Mr. Wharton/ said Marcella 
in Aldous's ear. 

'Get me a cab at once/ he said to the policeman, 
'and tell my carriage to wait/ 

'Miss Boyce!' 

Marcella turned hastily and saw Wharton beside her. 
Aldous also saw him, and the two men interchanged 
a few words. 

'There is a private room close by/ said Wharton. 
' I am to take you there, and Mr. Raeburn will join us 
at once/ 

[ 467 ] 


He led her along a corridor, and opened a door to 
the left. They entered a small dingy room, looking 
through a begrimed window on a courtyard. The gas 
was lit, and the table was strewn with papers. 

'Never, never more beautiful!' flashed through 
Wharton's mind, 'with that knit, strenuous brow- 
that tragic scorn for a base world that royal gait - 

Aloud he said : 

'I have done my best privately among the people 
I can get at, and I thought, before I go up to town 
to-night you know Parliament meets on Monday? 
I would show you what I had been able to do, and 
ask you to take charge of a copy of the petition/ He 
pointed to a long envelope lying on the table. ' I have 
drafted it myself I think it puts all the points we 
can possibly urge but as to the names - 

He took out a folded sheet of paper from his 

'It won't do/ he said, looking down at it, and 
shaking his head. 'As I said to you, it is so far political 
merely. There is a very strong Liberal and Radical 
feeling getting up about the case. But that won't 
carry us far. This petition with these names is a 
demonstration against game-preserving and keepers' 
tyranny. What we want is the co-operation of a 
neighbourhood, especially of its leading citizens. How- 
ever, I explained all this to you there is no need 
to discuss it. Will you look at the list?' 

Still holding it, he ran his finger over it, commenting 
here and there. She stood beside him; the sleeve of 
his gown brushed her black cloak ; and under his per- 
fect composure there beat a wild exultation in his 
[ 468 ] 


power without any apology, any forgiveness to 
hold her there, alone with him, listening her proud 
head stooped to his her eye following his with this 
effort of anxious attention. 

She made a few hurried remarks on the names, but 
her knowledge of the county was naturally not very 
serviceable. He folded up the paper and put it back. 

'I think we understand/ he said. 'You will do what 
you can in the only quarter 7 --he spoke slowly - 
'that can really aid, and you will communicate with 
me at the House of Commons? I shall do what I can, 
of course, when the moment comes, in Parliament, 
and meanwhile I shall start the matter in the Press - 
our best hope. The Radical papers are already taking 
it up/ 

There was a sound of steps in the passage outside. 
A policeman opened the door, and Aldous Raeburn 
entered. His quick look ran over the two figures stand- 
ing beside the table. 

' I had some difficulty in finding a cab/ he explained, 
'and we had to get some brandy; but she came round, 
and we got her off. I sent one of our men with her. 
The carriage is here/ 

He spoke to Marcella with some formality. 
He was very pale, but there was both authority and 
tension in his bearing. 

'I have been consulting with Miss Boyce/ said 
Wharton, with equal distance of manner, 'as to the 
petition we are sending up to the Home Office/ 

Aldous made no reply. 

' One word, Miss Boyce ' - - Wharton quietly turned 
to her. 'May I ask you to read the petition carefully, 
[ 469 ] 


before you attempt to do anything with it? It lays 
stress on the only doubt that can reasonably be felt 
after the evidence, and after the judge's summing-up. 
That particular doubt I hold to be entirely untouched 
by the trial ; but it requires careful stating the issues 
may easily be confused/ 

'Will you come?' said Aldous to Marcella. What 
she chose to think the forced patience of his tone 
exasperated her. 

'I will do everything I can/ she said in a low, dis- 
tinct voice to Wharton. 'Good-bye/ 

She held out her hand. To both the moment was 
one of infinite meaning; to her, in her high spiritual 
excitement, a sacrament of pardon and gratitude - 
expressed once for all by this touch in Aldous 
Raeburn's presence. 

The two men nodded to each other. Wharton was 
already busy, putting his papers together. 

'We shall meet next week, I suppose, in the House?' 
said Wharton, casually. 'Good -night/ 

'Will you take me to the Court?' said Marcella to 
Aldous, directly the door of the carriage was shut 
upon them, and, amid a gaping crowd that almost 
filled the little market-place of Widrington, the horses 
moved off. 'I told mamma that, if I did not come 
home, I should be with you, and that I should ask you 
to send me back from the Court to-night/ 

She still held the packet Wharton had given her in 

her hand. As though for air, she had thrown back the 

black gauze veil she had worn all through the trial, 

and, as they passed through the lights of the town, 

[ 470 ] 


Aldous could see in her face the signs the plain, 
startling signs of the effect of these weeks upon 
her. Pale, exhausted, yet showing in every movement 
the nervous excitement which was driving her on 
his heart sank as he looked at her foreseeing what 
was to come. 

As soon as the main street had been left behind, he 
put his head out of the window, and gave the coach- 
man, who had been told to go to Mellor, the new order. 

'Will you mind if I don't talk?' said Marcella, when 
he was again beside her. ' I think I am tired out, but 
I might rest now a little. When we get to the Court, 
will you ask Miss Raeburn to let me have some food 
in her sitting-room? Then, at nine o'clock or so, 
may I come down and see Lord Maxwell and you 

What she said, and the manner in which she said it, 
could only add to his uneasiness ; but he assented, put 
a cushion behind her, wrapped the rugs round her, 
and then sat -silent, train after train of close and 
anxious thought passing through his mind as they 
rolled along the dark roads. 

When they arrived at Maxwell Court, the sound of 
the carriage brought Lord Maxwell and Miss Raeburn 
at once into the hall. 

Aldous went forward in front of Marcella. 'I have 
brought Marcella,' he said hastily to his aunt. 'Will 
you take her upstairs to your sitting-room, and let her 
have some food and rest? She is not fit for the ex- 
ertion of dinner, but she wishes to speak to my grand- 
father afterwards.' 

Lord Maxwell had already hurried to meet the 
[ 471 ] 


black-veiled figure standing proudly in the dim light 
of the outer hall. 

'My dear! my dear!' he said, drawing her arm 
within his, and patting her hand in fatherly fashion. 
'How worn-out you look ! Yes, certainly Agneta, 
take her up and let her rest and you wish to speak 
to me afterwards? Of course, my dear, of course 
at any time.' 

Miss Raeburn, controlling herself absolutely, partly 
because of Aldous's manner, partly because of the 
servants, took her guest upstairs straightway, put her 
on the sofa in a cheerful sitting-room with a bright 
fire, and then, shrewdly guessing that she herself 
could not possibly be a congenial companion to the 
girl at such a moment, whatever might have happened 
or might be going to happen, she looked at her watch, 
said that she must go down to dinner, and promptly 
left her to the charge of a kind elderly maid, who was 
to do and get for her whatever she would. 

Marcella made herself swallow some food and wine. 
Then she said that she wished to be alone and rest for 
an hour, and would come downstairs at nine o'clock. 
The maid, shocked by her pallor, was loth to leave her, 
but Marcella insisted. 

When she was left alone she drew herself up to the 
fire and tried hard to get warm, as she had tried to eat. 
When in this way a portion of physical ease and 
strength had come back to her, she took out the pe- 
tition from its envelope and read it carefully. As she 
did so her lip relaxed, her eye recovered something 
of its brightness. All the points that had occurred 
to her confusedly, amateurishly, throughout the day, 
[ 472 ] 


were here thrown into luminous and admirable form. 
She had listened to them indeed, as urged by Wharton 
in his concluding speech to the jury, but it had not, 
alas ! seemed so marvellous to her then, as it did now, 
that, after such a plea, the judge should have summed 
up as he did. 

When she had finished it and had sat thinking a 
while over the declining fire, an idea struck her. She 
took a piece of paper from Miss Raeburn's desk, and 
wrote on it: 

'Will you read this and Lord Maxwell before 
I come down? I forgot that you had not seen it. M.' 

A ring at the bell brought the maid. 

'Will you please get this taken to Mr. Raeburn? 
And then, don't disturb me again for half an hour/ 

And for that time she lay in Miss Raeburn's fa- 
vourite chair, outwardly at rest. Inwardly she was 
ranging all her arguments, marshalling all her forces. 

When the chiming clock in the great hall below 
struck nine, she got up and put the lamp for a mo- 
ment on the mantelpiece, which held a mirror. She 
had already bathed her face and smoothed her hair. 
But she looked at herself again with attention, drew 
down the thick front waves of hair a little lower on the 
white brow, as she liked to have them, and once more 
straightened the collar and cuffs which were the only 
relief to her plain black dress. 

The house as she stepped out into it seemed very 
still. Perfumed breaths of flowers and pot-pourri 
ascended from the hall. The pictures along the walls 
as she passed were those same Caroline and early 
Georgian beauties that had so flashingly suggested 
[ 473 ] 


her own future rule in this domain on the day when 
Aldous proposed to her. 

She felt suddenly very shrinking and lonely as she 
went downstairs. The ticking of a large clock some- 
where the short, screaming note of Miss Raeburn's 
parrot in one of the ground-floor rooms these sounds 
and the beating of her own heart seemed to have the 
vast house to themselves. 

No ! that was a door opening Aldous coming 
to fetch her. She drew a childish breath of comfort. 

He sprang up the stairs, two or three steps at a 
time, as he saw her coming. 

'Are you rested were they good to you? Oh ! my 
precious one ! how pale you are still ! Will you come 
and see my grandfather now? He is quite ready/ 

She let him lead her in. Lord Maxwell was standing 
by his writing-table, leaning over the petition which 
was open before him one hand upon it. At sight 
of her he lifted his white head. His fine aquiline face 
was grave and disturbed. But nothing could have 
been kinder or more courtly than his manner as he 
came towards her. 

'Sit down in that chair. Aldous, make her com- 
fortable. Poor child, how tired she looks! I hear 
you wished to speak to me on this most unhappy, 
most miserable business/ 

Marcella, who was sitting erect on the edge of the 
chair into which Aldous had put her, lifted her eyes 
with a sudden confidence. She had always liked Lord 

'Yes/ she said, struggling to keep down eagerness 
and emotion. 'Yes, I came to bring you this petition, 
[ 474 ] 


which is to be sent up to the Home Secretary on behalf 
of Jim Kurd, and and to beg of you and Aldous 
to sign it, if in any way you can. I know it will be 
difficult, but I thought I might I might be able to 
suggest something to you to convince you as I 
have known these people so well and it is very im- 
portant to have your signatures/ 

How crude it sounded how mechanical ! She felt 
that she had not yet command of herself. The strange 
place, the stately room, the consciousness of Aldous 
behind her Aldous, who should have been on her 
side and was not all combined to intimidate her. 

Lord Maxwell's concern was evident. In the first 
place, he was painfully, unexpectedly struck by the 
change in the speaker. Why, what had Aldous been 
about? So thin ! so frail and willowy in her black dress 
monstrous ! 

'My dear/ he said, walking up to her and laying 
a fatherly hand on her shoulder, 'my dear, I wish 
I could make you understand how gladly I would do 
this, or anything else, for you, if I honourably could. 
I would do it for your sake and for your grandfather's 
sake. But this is a matter of conscience, of public 
duty, both for Aldous and myself. You will not surely 
wish even, that we should be governed in our relations 
to it by any private feeling or motive?' 

'No, but I have had no opportunity of speaking to 
you about it and I take such a different view from 
Aldous. He knows everybody must know that 
there is another side, another possible view from that 
which the judge took. You were n't in court to-day, 
were you, at all?' 

[ 475 ] 


'No. But I read all the evidence before the magis- 
trates with great care, and I have just talked over the 
crucial points with Aldous, who followed everything 
to-day, as you know, and seems to have taken special 
note of Mr. Wharton's speeches/ 

'Aldous!' her voice broke irrepressibly into an- 
other note - - * I thought he would have let me speak 
to you first ! to-night !' 

Lord Maxwell, looking quickly at his grandson, was 
very sorry for him. Aldous bent over her chair. 

'You remember/ he said, 'you sent down the peti- 
tion. I thought that meant that we were to read and 
discuss it. I am very sorry/ 

She tried to command herself, pressing her hand to 
her brow. But already she felt the irrevocable, and 
anger and despair were rising. 

'The whole point lies in this/ she said, looking up: 
'Can we believe Kurd's own story? There is no evi- 
dence to corroborate it. I grant that the judge did 
not believe it and there is the evidence of hatred. 
But is it not possible and conceivable, all the same? 
He says that he did not go out with any thought 
whatever of killing Westall, but that when Westall 
came upon him with his stick up, threatening and 
abusing him, as he had done often before, in a fit of 
wild rage he shot at him. Surely, surely that is con- 
ceivable? There is there must be a doubt; or, if it 
is murder, murder done in that way is quite, quite 
different from other kinds and degrees of murder/ 

Now she possessed herself. The gift of flowing, 
persuasive speech which was naturally hers, which the 
agitations, the debates of these weeks had been ma- 
[ 476 ] 


turing, came to her call. She leant forward and took 
up the petition. One by one she went through its 
pleas, adding to them here and there from her own 
knowledge of Kurd and his peasant's life present- 
ing it all clearly, with great intellectual force, but in 
an atmosphere of emotion, of high pity, charged 
throughout with the 'tears of things/ To her, gradu- 
ally, unconsciously, the whole matter so sordid, 
commonplace, brutal in Lord Maxwell's eyes ! had 
become a tragic poem, a thing of fear and pity, to 
which her whole being vibrated. And as she conceived 
it, so she reproduced it. Wharton's points were there 
indeed, but so were Kurd's poverty, Kurd's deformity, 
Kurd as the boyish victim of a tyrant's insults, the 
miserable wife, the branded children emphasised, 
all of them, by the occasional quiver, quickly steadied 
again, of the girl's voice. 

Lord Maxwell sat by his writing-table, his head 
resting on his hand, one knee crossed over the other. 
Aldous still hung over her chair. Neither interrupted 
her. Once the eyes of the two men met over her head 
a distressed, significant look. Aldous heard all she 
said, but what absorbed him mainly was the wild 
desire to kiss the dark hair, so close below him, alter- 
nating with the miserable certainty that for him at 
that moment to touch, to soothe her, was to be 

When her voice broke when she had said all she 
could think of she remained looking imploringly at 
Lord Maxwell. 

He was silent a little; then he stooped forward and 
took her hand. 

[ 477 ] 


'You have spoken/ he said, with great feeling, 'most 
nobly most well like a good woman, with a true, 
compassionate heart. But all these things you have 
said are not new to me, my dear child. Aldous warned 
me of this petition he has pressed upon me, still 
more I am sure upon himself, all that he conceived to 
be your view of the case the view of those who are 
now moving in the matter. But with the best will in 
the world I cannot, and I believe that he cannot - 
though he must speak for himself I cannot take 
that view. In my belief Kurd's act was murder, and 
deserves the penalty of murder. I have paid some 
attention to these things. I was a practising barrister 
in my youth, and later I was for two years Home 
Secretary. I will explain to you my grounds very 

And, bending forward, he gave the reasons for his 
judgement of the case as carefully and as lucidly as 
though he were stating them to a fellow-expert, and 
not to an agitated girl of twenty-one. Both in words 
and manner there was an implied tribute, not only to 
Marcella, but perhaps to that altered position of the 
woman in our moving world which affects so many 
things and persons in unexpected ways. 

Marcella listened, restlessly. She had drawn her 
hand away, and was twisting her handkerchief be- 
tween her fingers. The flush that had sprung up while 
she was talking had died away. She grew whiter and 
whiter. When Lord Maxwell ceased, she said quickly, 
and as he thought unreasonably 

'So you will not sign?' 

'No/ he replied, firmly, 'I cannot sign. Holding the 
[ 478 ] 

"So you will not sign" 


conviction about the matter I do, I should be giving 
my name to statements I do not believe ; and in order 
to give myself the pleasure of pleasing you, and of 
indulging the pity that every man must feel for every 
murderer's wife and children, I should be not only 
committing a public wrong, but I should be doing 
what I could to lessen the safety and security of one 
whole class of my servants men who give me hon- 
ourable service and two of whom have been so 
cruelly, so wantonly hurried before their Maker!' 

His voice gave the first sign of his own deep and 
painful feeling on the matter. Marcella shivered. 

'Then/ she said, slowly, 'Kurd will be executed/ 

Lord Maxwell had a movement of impatience. 

'Let me tell you/ he said, 'that that does not follow 
at all. There is some importance in signatures or 
rather in the local movement that the signatures 
imply. It enables a case to be reopened, which, in any 
event, this case is sure to be. But any Home Secre- 
tary who could decide a murder case on any other 
grounds whatever than those of law and his own 
conscience would not deserve his place a day an 
hour! Believe me, you mistake the whole situation/ 

He spoke slowly, with the sharp emphasis natural 
to his age and authority. Marcella did not believe him. 
Every nerve was beginning to throb anew with that 
passionate recoil against tyranny and prejudice, which 
was in itself an agony. 

'And you say the same?' she said, turning to 

'I cannot sign that petition/ he said sadly. 'Won't 
you try and believe what it costs me to refuse?' 
[ 479 ] 


It was a heavy blow to her. Amply as she had been 
prepared for it, there had always been at the bottom 
of her mind a persuasion that in the end she would 
get her way. She had been used to feel barriers go 
down before that ultimate power of personality of 
which she was abundantly conscious. Yet it had not 
availed her here not even with the man who loved 

Lord Maxwell looked at the two the man's face 
of suffering, the girl's struggling breath. 

'There, there, Aldous!' he said, rising. 'I will leave 
you a minute. Do make Marcella rest get her, for 
all our sakes, to forget this a little. Bring her in pre- 
sently to us for some coffee. Above all, persuade her 
that we love her and admire her with all our hearts, 
but that in a matter of this kind she must leave us 
to do as before God ! what we think right/ 

He stood before her an instant, gazing down upon 
her with dignity nay, a certain severity. Then he 
turned away and left the room. 

Marcella sprang up. 

' Will you order the carriage? ' she said, in a strangled 
voice. 'I will go upstairs/ 

'Marcella!' cried Aldous; 'can you not be just to 
me, if it is impossible for you to be generous?' 

'Just!' she repeated, with a tone and gesture of 
repulsion, pushing him back from her. ' You can talk 
of justice ! ' 

He tried to speak, stammered, and failed. That 
strange paralysis of the will-forces which dogs the 
man of reflexion at the moment when he must either 
take his world by storm or lose it was upon him now. 

[ 480 ] 


He had never loved her more passionately but as 
he stood there looking at her, something broke within 
him, the first prescience of the inevitable dawned. 

'You,' she said again, walking stormily to and fro, 
and catching at her breath 'you, in this house, 
with this life to talk of justice the justice that 
comes of slaying a man like Kurd! And I must go 
back to that cottage, to that woman, and tell her 
there is no hope none! Because you must follow 
your conscience you who have everything ! Oh ! I 
would not have your conscience I wish you a heart 
rather! Don't come to me, please! Oh! I must 
think how it can be. Things cannot go on so. I should 
kill myself, and make you miserable. But now I must 
go to her to the poor to those whom I love, 
whom I carry in my heart ! ' 

She broke off sobbing. He saw her, in her wild 
excitement, look round the splendid room as though 
she would wither it to ruin with one fiery, accusing 

'You are very scornful of wealth/ he said, catching 
her wrists, 'but one thing you have no right to scorn! 
the man who has given you his inmost heart - 
and now only asks you to believe in this, that he is 
not the cruel hypocrite you are determined to make 

His face quivered in every feature. She was checked 
a moment checked by the moral compulsion of his 
tone and manner, as well as by his words. But again 
she tore herself away. 

'Please go and order the carriage/ she said. 'I 
cannot bear any more. I must go home and rest. 
[ 481 ] 


Some day I will ask your pardon oh ! for this - 
and and' - - she was almost choked again 'other 
things. But now I must go away. There is some one 
who will help me. I must not forget that'/ 

The reckless words, the inflexion, turned Aldous to 
stone. Unconsciously he drew himself proudly erect 
- their eyes met. Then he went up to the bell and 
rang it. 

'The brougham at once, for Miss Boyce. Will you 
have a maid to go with you?' he asked, motioning 
the servant to stay till Miss Boyce had given her 

'No, thank you. I must go and put on my things. 
Will you explain to Miss Raeburn?' 

The footman opened the door for her. She went. 


J3uT this is unbearable!' said Aldous. 'Do you mean 
to say that she is at home and that she will not see 

Mrs. Boyce's self-possession was shaken for once by 
the flushed humiliation of the man before her. 

'I am afraid it is so/ she said, hurriedly. 'I re- 
monstrated with Marcella, but I could do nothing. 
I think, if you are wise, you will not for the present 
attempt to see her/ 

Aldous sat down, with his hat in his hand, staring 
at the floor. After a few moments' silence he looked 
up again. 

'And she gave you no message for me?' 

'No,' said Mrs. Boyce, reluctantly. 'Only that she 
could not bear to see anybody from the Court, even 
you, while this matter was still undecided.' 

Aldous's eye travelled round the Mellor drawing- 
room. It was arrested by a chair beside him. On it 
lay an envelope addressed to Miss Boyce, of which 
the handwriting seemed to him familiar. A needle 
with some black silk hanging from it had been thrust 
into the stuffed arm of the chair; the cushion at the 
back still bore the imprint of the sitter. She had been 
there, not three minutes ago, and had fled before him. 
The door into Mrs. Boyce's sitting-room was still ajar. 

He looked again at the envelope on the chair, and 
recognised the writing. Walking across to where Mrs. 
Boyce sat, he took a seat beside her. 
[ 483 ] 


'Will you tell me/ he said, steadily 'I think you 
will admit I have a right to know is Marcella in 
constant correspondence now with Henry Wharton?' 

Mrs. Boyce's start was not perceptible. 

'I believe so/ she quickly replied. 'So far as I can 
judge, he writes to her almost every other day/ 

'Does she show you his letters?' 

'Very often. They are entirely concerned with his 
daily interviews and efforts on Kurd's behalf/ 

'Would you not say/ he asked, after another pause, 
raising his clear grey eyes to her, 'that since his arrival 
here in December Marcella 's whole views and thoughts 
have been largely perhaps vitally influenced by 
this man?' 

Mrs. Boyce had long expected questions of this kind 
had, indeed, often marvelled and cavilled that 
Aldous had not asked them weeks before. Now that 
they were put to her she was, first of all, anxious to 
treat them with common sense, and as much plain 
truth as might be fair to both parties. The perpetual 
emotion in which Marcella lived tired and oppressed 
the mother. For herself she asked to see things in a 
dry light. Yet she knew well that the moment was 
critical. Her feeling was more mixed than it had 
been. On the whole it was indignantly on Aldous's 
side -- with qualifications and impatiences, how- 

She took up her embroidery again before she an- 
swered him. In her opinion the needle is to the woman 
what the cigarette is to the displomatist. 

'Yes, certainly/ she said at last. 'He has done a 
great deal to form her opinions. He has made her 
[ 484 ] 


both read and think on all those subjects she has so 
long been fond of talking about/ 

She saw Aldous wince ; but she had her reasons for 
being plain with him. 

'Has there been nothing else than that in it?' said 
Aldous, in an odd voice. 

Mrs. Boyce tried no evasions. She looked at him 
straight, her slight, energetic head, with its pale gold 
hair lit up by the March sun behind her. 

'I do not know/ she said, calmly; 'that is the real 
truth. I think there is nothing else. But let me tell 
you what more I think/ 

Aldous laid his hand on hers for an instant. In his 
pity and liking for her he had once or twice allowed 
himself this quasi-filial freedom. 

'If you would/ he entreated. 

'Leave Marcella quite alone for the present. She 
is not herself not normal, in any way. Nor will she 
be till this dreadful thing is over. But when it is over, 
and she has had time to recover a little, then' --her 
thin voice expressed all the emphasis it could 'then 
assert yourself ! Ask her that question you have asked 
me and get your answer/ 

He understood. Her advice to him, and the tone of 
it, implied that she had not always thought highly 
of his powers of self-defence in the past. But there 
was a proud and sensitive instinct in him which both 
told him that he could not have done differently and 
forbade him to explain. 

'You have come from London to-day?' said Mrs. 
Boyce, changing the subject. All intimate and per- 
sonal conversation was distasteful to her, and she 
[ 485 ] 


admitted few responsibilities. Her daughter hardly 
counted among them. 

'Yes; London is hard at work cabinet-making/ he 
said, trying to smile. 'I must get back to-night/ 

'I don't know how you could be spared/ said Mrs. 

He paused; then he broke out: 'When a man is in 
the doubt and trouble I am, he must be spared. In- 
deed, since the night of the trial, I feel as though I 
had been of very little use to any human being/ 

He spoke simply, but every word touched her. What 
an inconceivable entanglement the whole thing was! 
Yet she was no longer merely contemptuous of it. 

'Look!' she said, lifting a bit of black stuff from 
the ground beside the chair which held the envelope ; 
'she is already making the mourning for the children. 
I can see she despairs/ 

He made a sound of horror. 

'Can you do nothing?' he cried, reproachfully. 'To 
think of her dwelling upon this nothing but this, 
day and night and I, banished and powerless!' 

He buried his head in his hands. 

'No, I can do nothing,' said Mrs. Boyce, deliberately. 
Then, after a pause, 'You do not imagine there is any 
chance of success for her?' 

He looked up and shook his head. 

'The Radical papers are full of it, as you know. 
Wharton is managing it with great ability, and has 
got some good supporters in the House. But I hap- 
pened to see the judge the day before yesterday, and 
I certainly gathered from him that the Home Office 
was likely to stand firm. There may be some delay. 
[ 486 ] 


The new Ministry will not kiss hands till Saturday. 
But no doubt it will be the first business of the new 
Home Secretary. By the way, I had rather Mar- 
cella did not hear of my seeing Judge Cartwright/ he 
added hastily almost imploringly. ' I could not bear 
that she should suppose ' 

Mrs. Boyce thought to herself indignantly that she 
never could have imagined such a man in such a 

'I must go/ he said, rising. 'Will you tell her from 
me/ he added, slowly, 'that I could never have be- 
lieved she would be so unkind as to let me come down 
from London to see her, and send me away empty 
without a word?' 

'Leave it to my discretion/ said Mrs. Boyce, smiling 
and looking up. 'Oh, by the way, she told me to 
thank you. Mr. Wharton, in his letter this morning, 
mentioned that you had given him two introductions 
which were important to him. She specially wished 
you to be thanked for it.' 

His exclamation had a note of impatient contempt 
that Mrs. Boyce was genuinely glad to hear. In her 
opinion he was much too apt to forget that the world 
yields itself only to the 'violent/ 

He walked away from the house without once 
looking back. Marcella, from her window, watched 
him go. 

'How could she see him?' she asked herself passion- 
ately, both then and on many other occasions during 
these rushing, ghastly days. His turn would come, 
and it should be amply given him. But now the very 
thought of that half -hour in Lord Maxwell's library 
[ 487 ] 


threw her into wild tears. The time for entreaty - 
for argument was gone by, so far as he was con- 
cerned. He might have been her champion, and would 
not. She threw herself recklessly, madly into the en- 
couragement and support of the man who had taken 
up the task which, in her eyes, should have been her 
lover's. It had become to her a fight, with society, 
with the law, with Aldous, in which her whole nature 
was absorbed. In the course of the fight she had 
realised Aldous's strength, and it was a bitter offence 
to her. 

How little she could do after all! She gathered 
together all the newspapers that were debating the 
case, and feverishly read every line; she wrote to 
Wharton, commenting on what she read, and on 
his letters ; she attended the meetings of the Reprieve 
Committee which had been started at Widrington; 
and she passed hours of every day with Minta Kurd 
and her children. She would hardly speak to Mary 
Harden and the Rector, because they had not signed 
the petition, and at home her relations with her 
father were much strained. Mr. Boyce was awakening 
to a good deal of alarm as to how things might end. 
He might not like the Raeburns, but that anything 
should come in the way of his daughter's match was, 
notwithstanding, the very last thing in the world, as 
he soon discovered, that he really desired. During 
six months he had taken it for granted; so had the 
county. He, of all men, could not afford to be made 
ridiculous, apart from the solid, the extraordinary ad- 
vantages of the matter. He thought Marcella ajfoolish, 
unreasonable girl, and was not the less in a panic 
[ 488 ] 


because his wife let him understand that he had had 
a good deal to do with it. So that between him and 
his daughter there were now constant sparrings 
sparrings which degraded Marcella in her own eyes, 
and contributed not a little to make her keep away 
from home. 

The one place where she breathed freely, where the 
soul had full course, was in Minta Kurd's kitchen. 
Side by side with that piteous, plaintive misery, her 
own fierceness dwindled. She would sit with little 
Willie on her knees in the dusk of the spring evenings, 
looking into the fire, and crying silently. She never 
suspected that her presence was often a burden and 
constraint, not only to the sulky sister-in-law, but 
to the wife herself. While Miss Boyce was there the 
village kept away; and Mrs. Hurd was sometimes 
athirst, without knowing it, for homelier speech and 
simpler consolations than any Marcella could give her. 

The last week arrived. Wharton 's letters grew more 
uncertain and despondent; the Radical press fought 
on with added heat as the cause became more desper- 
ate. On Monday the wife went to see the condemned 
man, who told her not to be so silly as to imagine there 
was any hope. Tuesday night, Wharton asked his 
last question in Parliament. Friday was the day fixed 
for the execution. 

The question in Parliament came on late. The Home 
Secretary's answer, though not final in form, was final 
in substance. Wharton went out immediately and 
wrote to Marcella. 'She will not sleep if I telegraph 
to-night/ he thought, with that instinct for detail, 
especially for physical detail, which had in it some- 
[ 489 ] 


thing of the woman. But, knowing that his letter 
could not reach her by the early post with the stroke 
of eight next morning, he sent out his telegram, that 
she might not learn the news first from the papers. 

Marcella had wandered out before breakfast, feeling 
the house an oppression, and knowing that, one way 
or another, the last news might reach her any hour. 

She had just passed through the little wood behind 
and alongside of the house, and was in a field beyond, 
when she heard some one running behind her. William 
handed her the telegram, his own red face full of un- 
derstanding. Marcella took it, commanded herself till 
the boy was out of sight and hearing again, then sank 
down on the grass to read it. 

'All over. The Home Secretary's official refusal to 
interfere with sentence sent to Widrington to-day. 
Accept my sorrow and sympathy/ 

She crushed it in her hand, raising her head me- 
chanically. Before her lay that same shallow cup of 
ploughed land stretching from her father's big wood 
to the downs, on the edge of which Kurd had plied 
his ferrets in the winter nights. But to-day the spring 
worked in it, and breathed upon it. The young corn 
was already green in the furrows; the hazel-catkins 
quivered in the hedge above her; larks were in the 
air, daisies in the grass, and the march of sunny clouds 
could be seen in the flying shadows they flung on the 
pale greens and sheeny purples of the wide treeless 

Human helplessness, human agony set against 
the careless joy of Nature there is no new way of 
feeling these things. But not to have felt them, and 
[ 490 ] 


with the mad, impotent passion and outcry which 
filled Marcella's heart at this moment, is never to 
have risen to the full stature of our kind. 

'Marcella, it is my strong wish my command 
that you do not go out to the village to-night/ 

'I must go, papa/ 

It was Thursday night the night before the Fri- 
day morning fixed for Kurd's execution. Dinner at 
Mellor was just over. Mr. Boyce, who was standing 
in front of the fire, unconsciously making the most of 
his own inadequate height and size, looked angrily at 
his stately daughter. She had not appeared at dinner, 
and she was now dressed in the long black cloak and 
black hat she had worn so constantly in the last few 
weeks. Mr. Boyce detested the garb. 

' You are making yourself ridiculous, Marcella. Pity 
for these wretched people is all very well, but you 
have no business to carry it to such a point that you 
and we become the talk, the laughing-stock of 
the county. And I should like to see you, too, pay 
some attention to Aldous Raeburn's feelings and 
wishes. ' 

The admonition, in her father's mouth, would al- 
most have made her laugh, if she could have laughed 
at anything. But, instead, she only repeated : 

'I must go, I have explained to mamma/ 

'Evelyn! why do you permit it?' cried Mr. Boyce, 
turning aggressively to his wife. 

'Marcella explained to me, as she truly said/ re- 
plied Mrs. Boyce, looking up calmly. ' It is not her 
habit to ask permission of any one/ 
[ 491 ] 


'Mamma/ exclaimed the girl, in her deep voice, 'you 
would not wish to stop me?' 

'No/ said Mrs. Boyce, after a pause, 'no. You have 
gone so far, I understand you wish to do this. 
Richard/ she got up and went to him, 'don't ex- 
cite yourself about it; shall I read to you, or play 
a game with you?' 

He looked at her, trembling with anger. But her 
quiet eye warned him that he had had threatenings 
of pain that afternoon. His anger sank into fear. He 
became once more irritable and abject. 

'Let her gang her gait/ he said, throwing himself 
into a chair. 'But I tell you I shall not put up with 
this kind of thing much longer, Marcella.' 

'I shall not ask you, papa/ she said, steadily, as she 
moved towards the door. Mrs. Boyce paused where 
she stood, and looked after her daughter, struck by 
her words. Mr. Boyce simply took them as referring 
to the marriage which would emancipate her before 
long from any control of his, and fumed, without find- 
ing a reply. 

The maidservant who, by Mrs. Boyce's orders, was 
to accompany Marcella to the village, was already 
at the front door. She carried a basket contain- 
ing invalid food for little Willie, and a lighted 

It was a dark night and raining fast. Marcella was 
fastening up her tweed skirt in the hall, when she 
saw Mrs. Boyce hurry along the gallery above, and 
immediately afterwards her mother came across the 
hall to her. 

' You had better take the shawl, Marcella, it is cold 
[ 492 ] 


and raw. If you are going to sit up most of the night 
you will want it.' 

She put a wrap of her own across Marcella's arm. 

'Your father is quite right/ she went on. 'You 
have had one horrible experience to-day already - 

' Don't, mamma ! ' exclaimed Marcella, interrupting 
her. Then suddenly she threw her arms round her 

' Kiss me, mamma ! please kiss me ! ' 

Mrs. Boyce kissed her gravely, and let herself even 
linger a moment in the girl's strong hold. 

'You are extraordinarily wilful/ she said. 'And 
it is so strange to me that you think you do any 
good. Are you sure even that she wants to have 

Marcella's lip quivered. She could not speak, ap- 
parently. Waving her hand to her mother, she joined 
the maid waiting for her, and the two disappeared 
into the blackness. 

'But does it do any good?' Mrs. Boyce repeated to 
herself as she went back to the drawing-room. 'Sym- 
pathy! who was ever yet fed, warmed, comforted by 
sympathy? Marcella robs that woman of the only 
thing that the human being should want at such a 
moment solitude. Why should we force on the poor 
what to us would be an outrage?' 

Meanwhile Marcella battled through the wind and 
rain, thankful that the warm spring burst was over, 
and that the skies no longer mocked this horror which 
was beneath them. 

At the entrance to the village she stopped, and took 
the basket from the little maid. 
[ 493 ] 


'Now, Ruth, you can go home. Run quick, it is so 
dark, Ruth!' 

'Yes, Miss/ 

The young country girl trembled. Miss Boyce's 
tragic passion in this matter had to some extent in- 
fected the whole household in which she lived. 

'Ruth, when you say your prayers to-night, pray 
God to comfort the poor, and to punish the cruel ! ' 

'Yes, Miss/ said the girl, timidly, and ready to cry. 
The lantern she held flashed its light on Miss Boyce's 
white face and tall form. Till her mistress turned away 
she did not dare to move ; that dark eye, so wide, full, 
and living, roused in her a kind of terror. 

On the steps of the cottage Marcella paused. She 
heard voices inside or rather the Rector's voice 

A thought of scorn rose in her heart. 'How long 
will the poor endure this religion this make-believe 
-which preaches patience, patience! when it ought 
to be urging war?' 

But she went in softly, so as not to interrupt. The 
Rector looked up and made a grave sign of the head 
as she entered; her own gesture forbade any other 
movement in the group ; she took a stool beside Willie, 
whose makeshift bed of chairs and pillows stood on 
one side of the fire; and the reading went on. 

Since Minta Kurd had returned with Marcella from 
Widrington Gaol that afternoon, she had been so ill 
that a doctor had been sent for. He had bade them 
make up her bed downstairs in the warm; and ac- 
cordingly a mattress had been laid on the settle, and 
she was now stretched upon it. Her huddled form, 
[ 494 ] 


the staring whiteness of the narrow face and closed 
eyelids, thrown out against the dark oak of the settle, 
and the disordered mass of grizzled hair, made the 
centre of the cottage. 

Beside her on the floor sat Mary Harden, her head 
bowed over the rough hand she held, her eyes red with 
weeping. Fronting them, beside a little table, which 
held a small paraffin-lamp, sat the young rector, his 
Testament in his hand, his slight boy's figure cast in 
sharp shadow on the cottage wall. He had placed 
himself so as to screen the crude light of the lamp from 
the wife's eyes; and an old skirt had been hung over 
a chair to keep it from little Willie. Between mother 
and child sat Ann Mullins, rocking herself to and fro 
over the fire, and groaning from time to time a 
shapeless, sullen creature, brutalised by many children 
and much poverty of whom Marcella was often 

'And he said, Lord, remember me when Thou comest 
into Thy Kingdom. And He said unto him, Verily, 
I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with Me in Para- 

The Rector's voice, in its awed monotony, dwelt 
insistently on each word, then paused. 'To-day/ 
whispered Mary, caressing Minta's hand, while the 
tears streamed down her cheeks; 'he repented, Minta, 
and the Lord took him to Himself at once for- 
giving all his sins.' 

Mrs. Kurd gave no sign, but the dark figure on the 
other side of the cottage made an involuntary move- 
ment, which threw down a fire-iron, and sent a start 
through Willie's wasted body. The reader resumed; 
[ 495 ] 


but perfect spontaneity was somehow lost for both 
him and for Mary. Marcella's stormy presence worked 
in them both, like a troubling leaven. 

Nevertheless, the priest went steadily through his 
duty, dwelling on every pang of the Passion, putting 
together every sacred and sublime word. For cen- 
turies on centuries his brethren and forerunners had 
held up the Man of Sorrows before the anguished 
and the dying; his turn had come, his moment and 
place in the marvellous, never-ending task ; he ac- 
cepted it with the meek ardour of an undoubting 

'And all the multitudes that came together to this sight, 
when they beheld the things that were done, returned, 
smiting their breasts.' 

He closed the book, and bent forward, so as to bring 
his voice close to the wife's ear. 

'So He died the Sinless and the Just for you, 
for your husband. He has passed through death - 
through cruel death ; and where He has gone, we poor, 
weak, stained sinners can follow, holding to Him. 
No sin, however black, can divide us from Him, can 
tear us from His hand in the dark waters, if it be only 
repented, thrown upon His Cross. Let us pray for 
your husband, let us implore the Lord's mercy this 
night this hour ! upon his soul.' 

A shudder of remembrance passed through Mar- 
cella. The Rector knelt; Mrs. Kurd lay motionless, 
save for deep gasps of struggling breath at intervals; 
Ann Mullins sobbed loudly ; and Mary Harden wept as 
she prayed, lost in a mystical vision of the Lord Him- 
self among them there on the cottage floor 
[ 496 1 


stretching hands of pity over the woman beside her, 
showing His marred side and brow. 

Marcella alone sat erect, her whole being one pas- 
sionate protest against a faith which could thus heap 
all the crimes and responsibilities of this too real earth 
on the shadowy head of one far-off Redeemer. 'This 
very man who prays, ' she thought, ' is in some sort an ac- 
complice of those who, after tempting, are now destroy- 
ing, and killing, because they know of nothing better 
to do with the life they themselves have made outcast/ 

And she hardened her heart. 

When the spoken prayer was over, Mr. Harden 
still knelt on silently for some minutes. So did Mary. 
In the midst of the hush, Marcella saw the boy's eyes 
unclose. He looked with a sort of remote wonder at 
his mother and the figures beside her. Then suddenly 
the gaze became eager, concrete ; he sought for some- 
thing. Her eye followed his, and she perceived in the 
shadow beside him, on a broken chair placed behind 
the rough screen which had been made for him, the 
four tiny animals of pinched paper Wharton had once 
fashioned. She stooped noiselessly and moved the 
chair a little forward that he might see them better. 
The child with difficulty turned his wasted head, and 
lay with his skeleton hand under his cheek, staring at 
his treasures his little all with just a gleam, a 
faint gleam, of that same exquisite content which had 
fascinated Wharton. Then, for the first time that day, 
Marcella could have wept. 

At last the Rector and his sister rose. 

'God be with you, Mrs. Hurd,' said Mr. Harden, 
stooping to her; 'God support you!' 
[ 497 ] 


His voice trembled. Mrs. Kurd in bewilderment 
looked up. 

'Oh, Mr. Harden!' she cried, with a sudden wail. 
'Mr. Harden I' 

Mary bent over her with tears, trying to still her, 
speaking again with quivering lips of 'the dear Lord, 
the Saviour/ 

The Rector turned to Marcella. 

'You are staying the night with her?' he asked, 
under his breath. 

'Yes. Mrs. Mullins was up all last night. I offered 
to come to-night/ 

'You went with her to the prison to-day, I believe?' 


'Did you see Kurd?' 

'For a very few minutes/ 

'Did you hear anything of his state of mind?' he 
asked, anxiously. 'Is he penitent?' 

'He talked to me of Willie,' she said a fierce 
humanness in her unfriendly eyes. 'I promised him 
that when the child died, he should be buried re- 
spectably not by the parish. And I told him I 
would always look after the little girls/ 

The Rector sighed. He moved away. Then unex- 
pectedly he came back again. 

'I must say it to you,' he said, firmly, but still so 
low as not to be heard by any one else in the cottage. 
'You are taking a great responsibility here to-night. 
Let me implore you not to fill that poor woman with 
thoughts of bitterness and revenge at such a moment 
of her life. That you feel bitterly, I know. Mary. has 
explained to me but ask yourself, I beg of you ! - 
[ 498 ] 


how is she to be helped through her misery, either now 
or in the future, except by patience and submission 
to the will of God?' 

He had never made so long a speech to this formid- 
able parishioner of his, and his young cheek glowed 
with the effort. 

'You must leave me to do what I think best/ said 
Marcella, coldly. She felt herself wholly set free from 
that sort of moral compulsion which his holiness of 
mind and character had once exerted upon her. That 
hateful opinion of his, which Mary had reported, had 
broken the spell once for all. 

Mary did not venture to kiss her friend. They all 
went. Ann Mullins, who was dropping as much with 
sleep as grief, shuffled off last. When she was going, 
Mrs. Hurd seemed to rouse a little, and held her by 
the skirt, saying incoherent things. 

'Dear Mrs. Hurd/ said Marcella, kneeling down 
beside her, 'won't you let Ann go? I am going to 
spend the night here, and take care of you and Willie.' 

Mrs. Hurd gave a painful start. 

'You're very good, Miss/ she said, half -consciously, 
'very good, I'm sure. But she's his own flesh and 
blood is Ann his own flesh and blood. Ann !' 

The two women clung together, the rough, ill- 
tempered sister-in-law muttering what soothing she 
could think of. When she was gone, Minta Hurd 
turned her face to the back of the settle and moaned, 
her hands clenched under her breast. 

Marcella went about her preparations for the night. 
'She is extremely weak/ Doctor Clarke had said; 'the 
heart in such a state she may die of syncope on very 
[ 499 ] 


small provocation. If she is to spend the night in 
crying and exciting herself, it will go hard with her. 
Get her to sleep if you possibly can/ 

And he had left a sleeping-draught. Marcella re- 
solved that she would persuade her to take it. 'But 
I will wake her before eight o'clock/ she thought. 
'No human being has the right to rob her of herself 
through that last hour.' 

And tenderly she coaxed Minta to take the doctor's 
'medicine/ Minta swallowed it submissively, asking 
no questions. But the act of taking it roused her for 
the time, and she would talk. She even got up and 
tottered across to Willie. 

'Willie! Willie! Oh! look, Miss, he's got his 
animals he don't think of nothing else. Oh, Willie! 
won't you think of your father? you'll never have 
a father, Willie, not after to-night !' 

The boy was startled by her appearance there beside 
him his haggard, dishevelled mother, with the dews 
of perspiration standing on the face, and her black 
dress thrown open at the throat and breast for air. He 
looked at her, and a little frown lined the white brow. 
But he did not speak. Marcella thought he was too 
weak to speak, and for an instant it struck her with a 
thrill of girlish fear that he was dying then and there 
that night that hour. But when she had half -helped, 
half-forced Mrs. Hurd back to bed again, and had re- 
turned to him, his eyelids had fallen, he seemed asleep. 
The fast, whistling breath was much the same as it 
had been for days ; she reassured herself. 

And at last the wife slept too. The narcotic seized 
her. The aching limbs relaxed, and all was still. 
[ 500 ] 


Marcella, stooping over her, kissed the shoulder of her 
dress for very joy, so grateful to every sense of the 
watcher was the sudden lull in the long activity of 

Then she sat down in the rocking-chair by the fire, 
yielding herself with a momentary relief to the night 
and the silence. The tall clock showed that it was not 
yet ten. She had brought a book with her, and she 
drew it upon her knee; but it lay unopened. 

A fretting, gusty wind beat against the window, 
with occasional rushes of rain. Marcella shivered, 
though she had built up the fire, and put on her cloak. 

A few distant sounds from the village street round 
the corner, the chiming of the church clock, the crack- 
ling of the fire close beside her she heard every- 
thing there was to hear, with unusual sharpness of 
ear, and imagined more. 

All at once restlessness, or some undefined im- 
pression, made her look round her. She saw that the 
scanty baize curtain was only half -drawn across one 
of the windows, and she got up to close it. Fresh from 
the light of the lamp, she stared through the panes 
into the night without at first seeing anything. Then 
there flashed out upon the dark the door of a public- 
house to the right, the last in the village road. A man 
came out stumbling and reeling; the light within 
streamed out an instant on the road and the common ; 
then the pursuing rain and darkness fell upon him. 

She was drawing back when, with sudden horror, 

she perceived something else close beside her, pressing 

against the window. A woman's face ! the powerful 

black-and-white of it the strong aquiline features 

[ 501 ] 


- the mad keenness of the look were all plain to her. 
The eyes looked in hungrily at the prostrate form on 
the settle at the sleeping child. Another figure 
appeared out of the dark, running up the path. There 
was a slight scuffle, and voices outside. Marcella drew 
the curtain close with a hasty hand, and sat down, 
hardly able to breathe. The woman who had looked 
in was Isabella Westall. It was said that she was 
becoming more and more difficult to manage and to 

Marcella was some time in recovering herself. That 
look, as of a sleepless, hateful eagerness, clung to the 
memory. Once or twice, as it haunted her, she got up 
again to make sure that the door was fast. 

The incident, with all it suggested, did but intensify 
the horror and struggle in which the girl stood, made 
her mood more strained, more piercingly awake and 
alert. Gradually, as the hours passed, as all sounds 
from without, even that of the wind, died away, and 
the silence settled round her in ever-widening circles, 
like deep waters sinking to repose, Marcella felt her- 
self a naked soul, alone on a wide sea, with shapes of 
pain and agony and revolt. She looked at the sleeping 
wife. 'He, too, is probably asleep/ she thought, re- 
membering some information which a kindly warder 
had given her in a few jerky, well-meant sentences, 
while she was waiting downstairs in the gaol for Minta 
Hurd. 'Incredible! only so many hours, minutes left 

- so far as any mortal knows of living, thinking, 
recollecting, of all that makes us something as against 
the nothing of death and a man wastes them in sleep, 
in that which is only meant for the ease and repair of 

[ 502 ] 


the daily struggle. And Minta her husband is her 
all to-morrow she will have no husband ; yet she 
sleeps, and I have helped to make her. Ah! Nature 
may well despise and trample on us ; there is no reason 
in us no dignity ! Oh, why are we here why am 
/ here to ache like this to hate good people like 
Charles Harden and Mary to refuse all I could give 
to madden myself over pain I can never help? I 
cannot help it, yet I cannot forsake it ; it drives, it 
clings tome!' 

She sat over the fire, Willie's hand clasped in hers. 
He alone in this forlorn household loved her. Mrs. 
Hurd and the other children feared and depended on 
her. This creature of thistledown this little thread 
and patch of humanity felt no fear of her. It was 
as though his weakness divined through her harshness 
and unripeness those maternal and protecting powers 
with which her nature was in truth so richly dowered. 
He confided himself to her with no misgivings. He 
was at ease when she was there. 

Little piteous hand ! its touch was to her sym- 
bolic, imperative. 

Eight months had she been at Mellor? And that 
Marcella, who had been living and moving amid these 
woods and lanes all this time that foolish girl, de- 
lighting in new grandeurs, and flattered by Aldous 
Raeburn's attentions that hot, ambitious person, 
who had meant to rule a county through a husband 
what had become of her? Up to the night of Kurd's 
death -sentence she had still existed in some sort, with 
her obligations, qualms, remorses. But since then - 
every day, every hour had been grinding, scorching 
[ 503 ] 


her away fashioning in flame and fever this new 
Marcella who sat here, looking impatiently into an- 
other life, which should know nothing of the bonds 
of the old. 

Ah, yes ! her thought could distinguish between the 
act and the man, between the man and his class; but 
in her feeling all was confounded. This awful growth 
of sympathy in her strange irony ! had made all 
sympathy for Aldous Raeburn impossible to her. 
Marry him? no! no! never! But she would 
make it quite easy to him to give her up. Pride 
should come in he should feel no pain in doing 
it. She had in her pocket the letter she had re- 
ceived from him that afternoon. She had hardly 
been able to read it. Ear and heart were alike 
dull to it. 

From time to time she probably slept in her chair. 
Or else it was the perpetual rush of images and sensa- 
tions through the mind that hastened the hours. Once 
when the first streaks of the March dawn were show- 
ing through the curtains Minta Hurd sprang up with 
a loud cry ! 

'Oh, my God! Jim, Jim! Oh no! take that off. 
Oh, please, sir, please! Oh, for God's sake, sir!' 

Agony struggled with sleep. Marcella, shuddering, 
held and soothed her, and for a while sleep, or rather 
the drug in her veins, triumphed again. For another 
hour or two she lay restlessly tossing from side to side, 
but unconscious. 

Willie hardly moved all night. Again and again 
Marcella held beef -tea or milk to his mouth, and tried 
to rouse him to take it, but she could make no im- 
[ 504 ] 


pression on the passive lips; the sleeping serenity of 
the brow never changed. 

At last, with a start, Marcella looked round and 
saw that the morning was fully there. A cold light 
was streaming through the curtains ; the fire was still 
glowing ; but her limbs were stiff and chilled under her 
shawl. She sprang up, horror descending on her. Her 
shaking fingers could hardly draw out the watch in 
her belt. 

Ten minutes to eight! 

For the first time the girl felt nerve and resolution 
fail her. She looked at Mrs. Kurd and wrung her 
hands. The mother was muttering and moving, but 
not yet fully awake ; and Willie lay as before. Hardly 
knowing what she was doing, she drew the curtains 
back, as though inspiration might come with the light. 
The rain-clouds trailed across the common; water 
dripped heavily from the thatch of the cottage; and 
a few birds twittered from some bedraggled larches 
at the edge of the common. Far away, beyond and 
beneath those woods to the right, Widrington lay on 
the plain, with that high-walled stone building at its 
edge. She saw everything as it must now be happen- 
ing as plainly as though she were bodily present there 
the last meal the pinioning the chaplain. 

Goaded by the passing seconds, she turned back at 
last to wake that poor sleeper behind her. But some- 
thing diverted her. With a start she saw that Willie's 
eyes were open. 

'Willie/ she said, running to him, 'how are you, 
dear? Shall I lift your head a little?' 

He did not answer, though she thought he tried, 


and she was struck by the blueness under the eyes 
and nose. Hurriedly she felt his tiny feet. They were 
quite cold. 

'Mrs. Kurd!' she cried, rousing her in haste; 'dear 
Mrs. Kurd, come and see Willie ! ' 

The mother sprang up bewildered, and, hurrying 
across the room, threw herself upon him. 

'Willie, what is it ails you, dear? Tell mother! Is 
it your feet are so cold? But we'll rub them we'll 
get you warm soon. And here's something to make 
you better/ Marcella handed her some brandy. 
' Drink it, dear ; drink it, sweetheart ! ' Her voice grew 

'He can't/ said Marcella. 'Do not let us plague 
him; it is the end. Dr. Clarke said it would come in 
the morning/ 

They hung over him, forgetting everything but him 
for the moment the only moment in his little life 
he came first even with his mother. 

There was a slight movement of the hand. 

'He wants his animals/ said Marcella, the tears 
pouring down her cheeks. She lifted them and put 
them on his breast, laying the cold fingers over them. 

Then he tried to speak. 

'Daddy!' he whispered, looking up fully at his 
mother; 'take 'em to Daddy!' 

She fell on her knees beside him with a shriek, hid- 
ing her face, and shaking from head to foot. Marcella 
alone saw the slight, mysterious smile, the gradual 
sinking of the lids, the shudder of departing life that 
ran through the limbs. 

A heavy sound swung through the air a heavy 
[ 506 ] 


repeated sound. Mrs. Hurd held up her head and 
listened. The church clock tolled eight. She knelt 
there, struck motionless by terror by recollection. 
'Oh, Jim!' she said, under her breath 'my Jim!' 
The plaintive tone as of a creature that has not 
even breath and strength left wherewith to chide the 
fate that crushes it broke Marcella's heart. Sitting 
beside the dead son, she wrapped the mother in her 
arms, and the only words that even her wild spirit 
cculd find wherewith to sustain this woman through 
the moments of her husband's death were words of 
prayer the old shuddering cries wherewith the hu- 
man soul from the beginning has thrown itself on that 
awful encompassing Life whence it issued, and whither 
it returns. 


Two days later, in the afternoon, Aldous Raeburn 
found himself at the door of Mellor. When he entered 
the drawing-room, Mrs. Boyce, who had heard his 
ring, was hurrying away. 

1 Don't go/ he said, detaining her with a certain 
peremptoriness. 'I want all the light on this I can 
get. Tell me, she has actually brought herself to regard 
this man's death as in some sort my doing as some- 
thing which ought to separate us?' 

Mrs. Boyce saw that he held an open letter from 
Marcella crushed in his hand. But she did not need the 
explanation. She had been expecting him at any hour 
throughout the day, and in just this condition of mind. 

* Marcella must explain for herself,' she said, after 
a moment's thought. 'I have no right whatever to 
speak for her. Besides, frankly, I do not understand 
her, and when I argue with her she only makes me 
realise that I have no part or lot in her that I 
never had. It is just enough. She was brought up 
away from me. And I have no natural hold. I cannot 
help you, or any one else, with her.' 

Aldous had been very tolerant and compassionate 
in the past of this strange mother's abdication of her 
maternal place, and of its probable causes. But it 
was not in human nature that he should be either 
to-day. He resumed his questioning, not without 

[ 508 ] 


'One word, please. Tell me something of what has 
happened since Thursday, before I see her. I have 
written but till this morning I have had not one 
line from her/ 

They were standing by the window, he with his 
frowning gaze, in which agitation struggled against all 
his normal habits of manner and expression, fixed 
upon the lawn and the avenue. She told him briefly 
what she knew of Marcella's doings since the arrival 
of Wharton's telegram of the night in the cottage, 
and the child's death. It was plain that he listened 
with a shuddering repulsion. 

'Do you know/ he exclaimed, turning upon her, 
'that she may never recover this? Such a strain, such 
a horror! rushed upon so wantonly, so needlessly/ 

'I understand. You think that I have been to 
blame? I do not wonder. But it is not true not in 
this particular case. And anyway your view is not 
mine. Life and the iron of it has to be faced, 
even by women perhaps, most of all, by women. 
But let me go now. Otherwise my husband will come 
in. And I imagine you would rather see Marcella 
before you see him or any one/ 

That suggestion told. He instantly gathered him- 
self together, and nervously begged that she would 
send Marcella to him at once. He could think of no- 
thing, talk of nothing, till he had seen her. She went, 
and Aldous was left to walk up and down the room 
planning what he should say. After the ghastly in- 
termingling of public interests and private misery in 
which he had lived for these many weeks there was 
a certain relief in having reached the cleared space 
[ 509 ] 


the decisive moment when he might at last give 
himself wholly to what truly concerned him. He would 
not lose her without a struggle. None the less he 
knew, and had known ever since the scene in the Court 
library, that the great disaster of his life was upon 

The handle of the door turned. She was there. 

He did not go to meet her. She had come in wrought 
up to face attack reproaches, entreaties ready 
to be angry or to be humble, as he should give her the 
lead. But he gave her no lead. She had to break 
through that quivering silence as best she could. 

'I wanted to explain everything to you/ she said, 
in a low voice, as she came near to him. 'I know my 
note last night was very hard and abrupt. I did n't 
mean to be hard. But I am still so tired and every- 
thing that one says, and feels, hurts so.' 

She sank down upon a chair. This womanish appeal 
to his pity had not been at all in her programme. 
Nor did it immediately succeed. As he looked at her, 
he could only feel the wantonness of this eclipse into 
which she had plunged her youth and beauty. There 
was wrath, a passionate, protesting wrath, under his 

'Marcella/ he said, sitting down beside her, 'did 
you read my letter that I wrote you the day be- 
fore ?' 


'And after that, you could still believe that I was 
indifferent to your grief your suffering or to the 
suffering of any human being for whom you cared? 
You could still think it, and feel it?' 
[ 510 ] 


'It was not what you have said all through/ she 
replied, looking sombrely away from him, her chin on 
her hand, 'it is what you have done/ 

'What have I done?' he said, proudly, bending 
forward from his seat beside her. 'What have I ever 
done but claim from you that freedom you desire so 
passionately for others freedom of conscience 

freedom of judgement? You denied me this free- 
dom, though I asked it of you with all my soul. And 
you denied me more. Through these five weeks 
you have refused me the commonest right of love 

the right to show you myself, to prove to you 
that through all this misery of differing opinion - 
misery, much more, oh, much more to me than to 
you ! I was in truth bent on the same ends with 
you, bearing the same burden, groping towards the 
same goal.' 

'No! no!' she cried, turning upon him, and catch- 
ing at a word; 'what burden have you ever borne? 
I know you were sorry that there was a struggle in 
your mind that you pitied me pitied them. But 
you judged it all from above you looked down 
and I could not see that you had any right. It made 
me mad to have such things seen from a height, 
when I was below in the midst close to the horror 
and anguish of them/ 

'Whose fault was it/ he interrupted, 'that I was 
not with you? Did I not offer entreat? I could 
not sign a statement of fact which seemed to me an 
untrue statement, but what prevented me pre- 
vented us? - However, let me take that point 
first. Would you/ he spoke deliberately, 'would 
[ 511 ] 


you have had me put my name to a public state- 
ment which I, rightly or wrongly, believed to be false, 
because you asked me? You owe it to me to an- 

She could not escape the penetrating fire of his 
eye. The man's mildness, his quiet, self-renouncing 
reserve, were all burnt up at last in this white heat 
of an accusing passion. In return she began to forget 
her own resolve to bear herself gently. 

'You don't remember/ she cried, 'that what divided 
us was your your incapacity to put the human 
pity first; to think of the surrounding circumstances 

of the debt that you and I and everybody like us 
owe to a man like Hurd to one who had been 
stunted and starved by life as he had been/ 

Her lip began to tremble. 

'Then it comes to this/ he said, steadily, 'that if 
I had been a poor man, you would have allowed me 
my conscience my judgement of right and wrong 

in such a matter. You would have let me remember 
that I was a citizen, and that pity is only one side of 
justice! You would have let me plead that Kurd's 
sin was not against me, but against the community, 
and that in determining whether to do what you 
wished or no, I must think of the community and its 
good before even I thought of pleasing you. If I had 
possessed no more than Hurd, all this would have 
been permitted me ; but because of Maxwell Court - 
because of my money/ she shrank before the accent 
of the word, 'you refused me the commonest moral 
rights. My scruple, my feeling, were nothing to you. 
Your pride was engaged as well as your pity, and I 


must give way. Marcella ! you talk of justice you 
talk of equality is the only man who can get neither 
at your hands the man whom you promised to 

His voice dwelt on that last word, dwelt and broke. 
He leant over her in his roused strength, . and tried 
to take her hand. But she moved away from him 
with a cry. 

'It is no use! Oh, don't don't! It may be all 
true. I was vain, I dare say, and unjust, and hard. 
But don't you see don't you understand if we 
could take such different views of such a case if it 
could divide us so deeply what chance would there 
be if we were married? I ought never never to 
have said "Yes" to you even as I was then. But 
now/ she turned to him slowly, 'can't you see it for 
yourself? I am a changed creature. Certain things 
in me are gone gone and instead there is a fire 

something driving, tormenting which must burn 
its way out. When I think of what I liked so much 
when you asked me to marry you being rich, and 
having beautiful things, and dresses, and jewels, and 
servants, and power social power above all, that 

I feel sick and choked. I could n't breathe now in 
a house like Maxwell Court. The poor have come to 
mean to me the only people who really live, and 
really suffer. I must live with them, work for them, 
find out what I can do for them. You must give me 
up you must indeed. Oh ! and you will ! You will 
be glad enough, thankful enough, when when you 
know what I am!' 

He started at the words. Where was the prophetess? 
[ 513 ] 


He saw that she was lying white and breathless, her 
face hidden against the arm of the chair. 

In an instant he was on his knees beside her. 

'Marcella!' he could hardly command his voice, 
but he held her struggling hand against his lips. 'You 
think that suffering belongs to one class? Have you 
really no conception of what you will be dealing to me 
if you tear yourself away from me?' 

She withdrew her hand, sobbing. 

'Don't, don't stay near me!' she said; 'there is 
more there is something else.' 

Aldous rose. 

'You mean,' he said in an altered voice, after a 
pause of silence, 'that another influence another 
man has come between us?' 

She sat up, and with a strong effort drove back her 

'If I could say to you only this,' she began at last, 
with long pauses, '"I mistook myself and my part in 
life. I did wrong, but forgive me, and let me go for 
both our sakes" that would be well! that 
would be difficult, but easier than this ! Have n't 
you understood at all? When when Mr. Wharton 
came, I began to see things very soon, not in my own 
way, but in his way. I had never met any one like 
him not any one who showed me such possibilities 
in myself such new ways of using one's life, and not 
only one's possessions of looking at all the great 
questions. I thought it was just friendship, but it 
made me critical, impatient of everything else. I was 
never myself from the beginning. Then after the 
ball,' --he stooped over her that he might hear her 

[ 514 ] 


the more plainly, 'when I came home I was in my 
room and I heard steps there are ghost-stories, you 
know, about that part of the house. I went out to see. 
Perhaps, in my heart of hearts oh, I can't tell, I 
can't tell ! anyway, he was there. We went into 
the library, and we talked. He did not want to touch 
our marriage, but he said all sorts of mad things, 
and at last he kissed me/ 

The last words were only breathed. She had often 
pictured herself confessing these things to him. But 
the humiliation in which she actually found herself 
before him was more than she had ever dreamed of, 
more than she could bear. All those great words of 
pity and mercy all that implication of a moral at- 
mosphere to which he could never attain to end 
in this story! The effect of it, on herself, rather than 
on him, was what she had not foreseen. 

Aldous raised himself slowly. 

'And when did this happen?' he asked, after a 

'I told you the night of the ball of the mur- 
der/ she said, with a shiver; 'we saw Kurd cross the 
avenue. I meant to have told you everything at once.' 

'And you gave up that intention?' he asked her, 
when he had waited a little for more, and nothing 

She turned upon him with a flash of the old defi- 

'How could I think of my own affairs?' 

'Or of mine?' he said, bitterly. 

She made no answer. 

Aldous got up and walked to the chimney-piece. 
[ 515 ] 


He was very pale, but his eyes were bright and spark- 
ling. When she looked up at him at last she saw that 
her task was done. His scorn his resentment 
were they not the expiation, the penalty she had 
looked forward to all along? and with that deter- 
mination to bear them calmly? Yet, now that they 
were in front of her they stung. 

'So that for all those weeks while you were 
letting me write as I did, while you were letting me 
conceive you and your action as I did, you had this 
on your mind? You never gave me a hint; you let 
me plead; you let me regard you as wrapped up in 
the unselfish end ; you sent me those letters of his 
those most misleading letters ! and all the time ' 

' But I meant to tell you I always meant to tell 
you/ she cried, passionately. 'I would never have 
gone on with a secret like that not for your sake 
but for my own/ 

'Yet you did go on so long/ he said, steadily; 'and 
my agony of mind during those weeks my feeling 
towards you my ' 

He broke off, wrestling with himself. As for her, she 
had fallen back in her chair, physically incapable of 
anything more. 

He walked over to her side and took up his hat. 

'You have done me wrong/ he said, gazing down 
upon her. 'I pray God you may not do yourself a 
greater wrong in the future ! Give me leave to write to 
you once more, or to send my friend Edward Hallin 
to see you. Then I will not trouble you again/ 

He waited, but she could give him no answer. Her 
form as she lay there in this physical and moral abase- 

[ 516 ] 


ment printed itself upon his heart. Yet he felt no 
desire whatever to snatch the last touch the last 
kiss that wounded passion so often craves. In- 
wardly, and without words, he said farewell to her. 
She heard his steps across the room; the door shut; 
she was alone and free. 


OTfte Rteftffe 

U . S . A 

L - T- - c - 1 


PR Ward, Mary Augusta (Arnold) 
571C The writings of Mrs. Humphry 

1911 Ward